Sheldon Lee Cooper slowly opened his eyes and slid his arm across the bed. "Good morning, Amy Farrah Fowler…"
The space beside him was empty and cold, devoid of residual body warmth. He shot up and out of bed, and without bothering to put on his slippers and dressing robe, rushed to the bathroom.
He knocked on the door:
Knock, knock, knock, "Amy."
Knock, knock, knock, "Amy."
Knock, knock, knock, "Amy."
"Are you suffering from morning sickness again?" He asked.
The only response was a series of retching noises. He opened the door to the sight of his fiancée kneeling in front of the toilet, white-knuckled hands gripping the seat.
Suppressing gag reflex at the smell of vomit, he grabbed an elastic band from the shelf and kneeled beside her. He carefully stroked the hair off her face and started braiding it. "How long have you been here? You should've woken me up."
She shook her head and looked up at him with bleary eyes. "You already had to hunt for a strawberry cheesecake after last night's extended Halo session. Getting less than six hours of sleep would've impaired your mental faculties and rendered today's work day useless."
Finishing the braid, he fetched the tissue box and dabbed at her mouth with piece of tissue. "You have at least six more months of my committed doting and the prerogative to make unquestioned demands."
"I know—" she swiftly turned away, and hurled in the toilet once more.
When she pulled herself up, he wiped at her mouth again. "Today is French toast day, but do you suppose you'd be more likely to keep down oatmeal?"
"Yes Sheldon, thank you." She sighed, her head dropping tiredly.
"Very well." He pulled her on his lap so that she straddled him and her head rested against his chest.
"If we maintain this position, I might not reach the toilet in time and end up throwing up on you," she informed him.
He cocked his head thoughtfully. "You know how I said I would willingly share your pregnancy pains if I could?" She nodded. "Wouldn't you say that getting thrown up on would be painful for me?"
She giggled and he noted with some relief how, despite being rimmed with dark circles, her green eyes sparkled with mirth. She leaned against him and he rubbed her back soothingly.
After a few minutes, she said: "I think I feel better now."
He reached for the extra bottle of mouthwash he kept on top of the stack of magazines behind the toilet seat. "Gargle," he said. "After I've performed my baby daddy duties admirably, you would be so overcome with emotion and would feel the compulsion to kiss me, and I'm not kissing that mouth in its present state."
While Amy rinsed her mouth, he flushed the toilet and sprayed it with Lysol. When she finished, he led her back to the bedroom, arranged the pillows so she could sit up comfortably, and tucked her in. He placed a hand on her growing belly and said: "You may be our little overlord, but try not to make your Mommy too sick."
Then he told Amy: "Wait here, I'll make the oatmeal. But I'll be back shortly with a bottle of salted lemon water with honey, you need to rehydrate. Gatorade has food coloring so I preferred an alternative. I considered stocking up on this drink called Pocari Sweat, which is much like Gatorade but without the food coloring. However, the name was so unpalatable, that I made the lemon water instead." He set the trash can beside the bed. "I'll put this here, in case you feel sick again."
"Shouldn't you be getting ready for work?"
"I've already informed Dr. Gablehauser that I would be working from home on certain days for the next six months or so."
Her face glowed with that bashful little smile she reserved only for him, and he took that as his cue to lean down and close his eyes so she could kiss him.
"Dude, what happened to you two?" Raj asked.
Nearly dropping their trays, Sheldon and Leonard sank in the seats of their designated table in the Caltech cafeteria. Both looked haggard; and in the former's case, five-o'clock shadow darkened his jaw.
Sheldon sighed. "Last night, Amy had a craving for these peculiar chocolate covered cookie sticks called Pepero. I had to go all the way to a Koreatown convenience store to fetch them for her."
"You had to go?" Leonard growled, incredulous. "Who do you think had to drive you?"
"It's only natural that you do, Leonard, as I choose not to drive."
His friend banged his forehead on the edge of his tray. "I'm only doing this because Penny asked me to, for Amy's sake."
"Wait a minute," Howard looked from one disheveled friend to the other. "You mean Sheldon Cooper is going for midnight pregnancy craving runs?"
"Of course," Sheldon rolled his eyes as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "It's in the Pregnancy Addendum to the Relationship Agreement: the Daddy is required to satisfy any and all cravings the Mommy might have; regardless of time and place."
Raj and Howard exchanged alarmed looks.
"Do you know what this means?" Raj cried. "If even Sheldon is reduced to being whipped by his pregnant fiancée, then we're all in trouble when it's our turn."
"What do you mean when it's our turn?" His best friend retorted. "You worry about getting a girlfriend first before you worry about that."
"I guess you're the one who has to worry the most, trophy future house husband," Raj snapped back. "You sure you want to eat that full serving of mac and cheese, you know you have to watch out for your figure."
"Don't start," Leonard moaned, massaging his temples with his knuckles.
Raj and Howard glowered at each other, but kept silent out of pity for Leonard.
After a few minutes, Howard dropped his forkful of mac and cheese, his mouth an 'O' of horror. "Good God, you're right. If this is how Sheldon acts, what will we have to do?"
Raj and Leonard both shuddered.
"Gentlemen, you need not worry," Sheldon assured them. "Unlike mine, your women wouldn't be the mother of the first being of a higher species. You can hang them on an Indian birthing tree for all the difference that makes."
The death glares the three other men gave him went unnoticed as he started eating his fried chicken.
"Good evening, Howardette," Sheldon greeted, ushering his pair-bonded friends into the living room of apartment 4A.
Howard and Bernadette shared identical looks of bafflement, before repeating: "'Howardette?'"
Sitting on the couch in her newly-designated spot (which is basically the one beside Sheldon's spot), Amy said: "Since you christened Sheldon and me with a juvenile amalgamation of our names, we thought it only fair to respond in kind."
The baby daddy and mommy shared pleased gazes that could be generally classified as 'making eyes,' but Howard mentally noted that based on the amount and intensity of sparks per second in that little moment, it would be more appropriately defined as 'eye coitus.' Based on the stunned look on Bernadette's face, she had the same thought.
"I think 'Lenny' doesn't sound half-bad," Penny declared defiantly. "I could get used to it."
Leonard looked up from arranging the Chinese takeout containers on the coffee table, grinning from ear-to-ear. Howard rolled his eyes.
"I agree, it does have a certain ring to it," Amy said. "And we could give our child that name in honor of our besties."
Leonard and Penny stared at her with jawdropped surprise.
"Oh, that would be so sweet," Bernadette cooed.
Sheldon paused midway the kitchen and the living room, clutching the bottle of soy sauce in both hands. "Amy, where's the Bazinga?"
She smiled coyly, taking a dumpling with her chopsticks.
A sudden yank at his sweater sleeve sent Howard crouching beside Raj, who was sitting on the floor. His selectively mute best friend whispered in his ear furiously.
"No, we're not rubbing our portmanteau couple names in your face—if you want one, then get yourself a girlfriend!" He scowled at Raj, who whispered some more. "Uhhh—no, we're not naming any children after your portmanteau couple name with your presently non-existent girlfriend."
Raj huffed and reached for a spring roll but Penny slapped his hand. "We're still divvying up the food!"
He let out a silent howl, pointed at Amy, and whispered to Howard again.
"She's pregnant, she's allowed to eat whenever she wants," Howard sighed.
"Of course it's fair," Sheldon said, answering the complaint written on their silent friend's face. "If you desire the same treatment, you must renovate your anatomy with a womb and lease it to a little Homo Novus for nine months."
Raj grumbled and waited for Penny to hand him a paper plate of food.
When everyone was given their share, Howard said: "So fellows, I trust we're all up for a man-date at this Saturday's convention?"
"Yeah, sure," Leonard said. Raj nodded enthusiastically. But Sheldon froze with a forkful of noodles before his mouth.
"You remember," Amy told him. "You have an eidetic memory."
"I can't," he said, his shoulders drooping. "We have a doctor's appointment that morning."
"Then catch up in the afternoon," Howard suggested.
"We're shopping for the first set of the baby's required supplies after the appointment," Amy informed him.
Realization dawned on him, and he smirked. "I never thought I'd get the chance to ask this of Sheldon… but is the missus speaking for both parties now?"
Sheldon looked from him, to Amy, to her slightly protruding abdomen. Howard could practically hear the mental gears turning. After several long seconds, Sheldon said: "I could indulge my male tendency to macho displays of dominance and protest that idea, but the few moments of satisfaction I gain from doing so wouldn't be worth the resulting conflict with my dangerously hormonal, pregnant fiancée. So yes, the missus does speak for both parties."
It took Howard a full minute to process that statement, and when he finally did, he gaped at Leonard, then at Raj. "What kind of sorcery is this?"
Meanwhile, Penny and Bernadette gave Amy double thumbs-up signs.
Penny perked up at the noises from the corridor. "They're back! Leonard, will you get the door?"
He crossed the living room of apartment 4B and opened the door. "Hello Shamy, join us here."
The couple across the hall turned to Leonard. Sheldon pocketed the keys to 4A, and putting a hand on the small of Amy's back, walked with her towards him.
His ex-roommate glanced around to see Raj, Howard, and Bernadette already assembled in 4B. "Everyone's here, how convenient."
"What do you mean, Sheldon?" He asked.
The Shamy glanced at each other.
"It seems we were mistaken," Sheldon began. "We're not having a Homo Novus baby."
Leonard saw Penny bite her lip; he held his breath.
"We're having two of them!" Amy exclaimed.
"Oh my God!" Penny shrieked and clutched hands with a squealing Bernadette, both of them jumping up and down. They rushed to Amy and hugged her.
"Hey, hey, careful now," Sheldon warned, eyeing the females' outburst with disapproval. "Don't smother the twin overlords."
"Congratulations." Leonard offered his hand. Much to his surprise, Sheldon took it and shook it.
"Not bad, Smelly Cooper, not bad at all." Howard patted Sheldon's shoulder.
Sniffling, Raj swiped at his eyes and raised his hand for a high-five.
Sheldon grimaced. "Raj, you just wiped at your third-world germs with that hand." He tilted his head. "I thought you guys were going to the toy convention?"
"Oh that," Leonard twiddled his thumbs. "Well, even you couldn't go, we never stood a chance."
"Their women said we should wait for the news from your woman's checkup, for moral support," Raj stage-whispered.
"Looks like they were right," Leonard said. "This is big news."
"How adorable!" Penny cried, playing with a pair of matching onesies emblazoned with Flash logos. She was sitting on the couch, with Amy sandwiched between her and Bernadette.
"Even if they're a pain, I think children are the best at this age," Bernadette said, waving a pair of yellow booties. "All of them are still cute and tiny, and you don't understand what they say."
Howard blinked at his fiancée's words and hurried to her side. "Does that mean there's still hope for us to have children?"
She gave him a sugary smile. "Oh, we can have as many children as you can take care of, Howie."
Amy held up a teeny-tiny knitted vest, and Raj's eyebrows quirked in interest and he joined the women.
"I'm a guest in your home," he pointed out.
"Let me get you a beverage," Leonard said magnanimously. The taller man followed him to the kitchen counter and accepted a glass of Coke. He poured one for himself as well.
On the counter, Sheldon's glass of Coke fizzed and remained untouched. He was watching intently as Amy laughed, excitedly showed off baby stuff, and clapped when her girl friends gave her a set of baby toys; Leonard thought it was understandable, as she had that mysterious but very apparent pregnancy glow about her lately. But inexplicably, anxiety and distress marked his friend's face.
"Don't let it bother you," he said, after the women broke into a fit of cries and giggles. "Just let them have their fun."
Sheldon shook his head slowly. "It's not that…"
"You don't seem okay. What's wrong?"
"At the doctor's… she said she was recommending Caesarean section for the delivery and bed rest from now on. To be on the safe side. I don't think she would have given such a warning if this particular case of pregnancy wasn't riskier than most." He ran a hand over his eyes. "I… find myself wishing we had ended up using a surrogate as originally planned."
"This baby—rather, these babies—weren't exactly planned though," Leonard reminded him.
"I know. And this exactly why there must be plans. As you know, I have been eager for the day when Amy and I can gift humanity with the perfect combination of our intelligence. But in this situation…" He sighed.
Leonard lightly slapped his back. "Don't worry buddy, it'll be okay."
Sheldon frowned. "Leonard, I have an IQ of 187 and even I am uncertain how this situation will play out, your IQ is only 173 so there's no way you—"
"Sheldon, it'll be okay. We're all here for the two of you, okay?" Leonard said in his most reassuring voice.
"… Alright then."
"Good." He walked to join the group.
Behind him, he heard Sheldon say: "Thank you again, Leonard."
"What kind of sorcery indeed," Leonard shook his head, but smiled.
Amy woke up, finding herself snugly tucked in but alone in the dark bedroom, with only the star-shaped nightlight patterns on the ceiling keeping her company. The bedside clock displayed 3:00 AM.
Putting on her slippers and robe, she padded out to the corridor and into the other room, which was recently vacated by Leonard.
All traces of the previous occupant were gone and the room was mostly bare, though it was freshly wallpapered with nursery rhyme characters and one side was lined with white bookshelves holding a small but growing selection of children's literature. She liked how the nursery was shaping up, but had been surprised by Sheldon's choices, as she had been half-expecting him to make a pint sized science center. Instead, he asserted that any child of theirs should be surrounded by the customary trappings of childhood in addition to their scientific materials—it had worked for them growing up, it would work for their progeny.
Currently, he was sitting in the center of the rubber-tiled floor, screwing on the seat of a little wooden rocking horse.
"Why are you assembling the rocking horse instead of sleeping?" She asked, sitting beside him.
"Because I couldn't sleep," he replied. His face was drawn yet his blue eyes were bright and alert. "Maybe we should've bought two of these, so the children wouldn't have to fight over it."
"No," she said firmly. "Sharing toys would be an integral part of their development into mature and well-adjusted individuals."
"I understand." He made a show of dusting his hands and stood up. "I had better protect the floor with newspaper while I give this horse a proper coating of varnish."
"Sheldon." She caught his sleeve to prevent him from leaving. "Are you still worried about what the doctor said?"
He shifted his weight from side-to-side, pointedly looking away. "You have once identified me as a hypochondriac, so worrying should be regular behavior for me."
"This time, it's a little different." She pulled him back to a sitting position on the floor and scooted so they were facing each other.
Still not meeting her eyes, he said: "Amy, the doctor recommended bed rest for you, being up at this ungodly hour is the last thing you should be doing. Well, maybe not the last, that's probably dancing with naked hippies on a cold, marijuana-fogged ledge, but still—"
She took his larger hands in hers and squeezed. "I'll be okay, and the babies—the babies will be perfect," she smiled. "They'll have your eyes and their intelligence would be superior even to ours, and when you win the Nobel prize, they'll declare that they'll win it at a younger age than you did."
"… Okay." He switched their hands so he was holding hers, completely enfolding them in his. He nodded seriously. "But… they'll have your smile, right? After all, yours is simply magnetic."
"Thank you. I find your smile utterly beguiling as well."
He rubbed her hands, which were rather cold, and asked: "But what are you doing up? Did I wake you? Did I not tuck you in properly?"
"That's not the case, the tucking in was excellent. I… I just missed your presence, that's all."
"I don't think that's all it was." He eyed her suspiciously. "The look on your face indicates that you have an urgent craving for an impractical or extraordinary food."
She sighed. "Is it that obvious?"
"I fail at reading most people's expressions not because I lack the ability to do so, but because I don't care to familiarize myself with their facial nuances. Since you are an exception to the not-caring rule, I am able to accurately distinguish the moods behind your expressions."
"Hoo…" She exhaled. "Have I ever told you how romantic you are?"
"Yes, exactly twenty-two times," he said in a self-satisfied fashion. He placed their joined hands over her belly. "So tell me, what is the current craving of my mate and the little geniuses she's carrying?"
"Not necessary, you don't have to procure it…"
"But of course I have to," he insisted. "It's in the Pregnancy Addendum to the Relationship Agreement."
She bit back another delighted gasp. "I would like to eat some tea eggs."
"Then I'll ask the owners living on the floor above the Paper Lantern to sell me some." He got on his feet and helped her up.
She followed him to the main door and watched as he knocked on the door across the hall.
Knock, knock, knock, "Leonard."
Knock, knock, knock, "Leonard."
Knock, knock, knock, "Leonard."
There was a faraway thud, some muffled cursing, and two minutes later, Leonard stepped out: his dressing robe still untied, his hair sticking in all directions, and his glasses askew.
"We have to go to the Paper Lantern for some tea eggs," Sheldon informed him.
Rubbing at his eyes with one hand, Leonard nodded and fished out his car keys from his robe pocket with his other hand.
"This is why we have to name one of the twins 'Lenny,'" Amy teased.
Leonard grinned cheesily at that, and Sheldon sternly waved a finger at his best friend. "Leonard, there's a Bazinga there, but we both can't hear it."
"'Lenny' really does have a certain ring to it," Leonard remarked.
Sheldon stepped back to Amy's side and gave her a tender kiss before gently touching her stomach. "Now behave, Daddy will be back soon."