Stuart Bloom was having a typical Thursday evening. His regular clients, Leonard, Howard, Raj, and Sheldon entered the comic book store and he gave them a small, tight smile that gave way to a slack-jawed gape when the group was followed by none other than Amy Farrah Fowler. The woman that Stuart once thought he could love… or at least have a successful relationship with. The definition would be one that didn't end with him being declared a hopeless case by his current therapist and wanting to run through a glass door.
The presentiment that it was going to turn out to be an atypical Thursday after all crept up his spine and he shivered.
"Sheldon." She crossed her arms and rolled her eyes, such a vivid shade of green even behind her glasses. "I thought I've made my stance on comic books perfectly clear: I find them lame. And being in a store that specializes in the medium is the last place I want to be during Date Night."
Her boyfriend—oh, how Stuart envied that Sheldon had been graced with that epithet, well, he envied any man who could call himself anyone's boyfriend really—turned to her with that infuriatingly know-it-all look and said: "Amy, you are not in a comic book store during Date Night, you are merely stopping by a comic book store before we proceed with Date Night. The sooner you let me finish my business here, the sooner we can dine in an establishment of your choice, provided that it has received my prior approval of course."
She huffed exasperatedly, lips pushed out in an adorable little pout, and strutted to a display of hardbound graphic novels with a certain panache that she didn't previously possess. It appeared that Penny and their other friend, the unexpectedly feisty little lady, was rubbing off on her.
Sheldon shook his head. "Women." He joined his friends rifling through the shelf of trade paperbacks.
Amy was going through the motions of browsing the books, but one hand was adjusting the purple barrette holding her silky brown hair and her gaze was distant. She was like a lone fragrant blossom in an arid desert. Even in her conservative cardigan and button-down shirt, a number of guys in the shop had already fixed their stares on her, an actual real-life girl.
He couldn't help but notice that her purple-and-black striped cardigan was sleek against her body, unlike the baggy ones she used to wear. Her skirt was a good hands-width above her knee and—he nearly blushed at the realization—her legs were bare of her usual tights.
It was then that Stuart decided he was going to talk to Amy Farrah Fowler, compliment her, and maybe even flirt with her. Why not? Who ever told Sheldon to bring his girlfriend to a comic book store of all places and leave her where anyone could approach her? You snooze, you lose. Nice guys finish last and Stuart was tired of being a nice guy.
He took one step forward.
The door swung open and Wil Wheaton swaggered inside. "Hey Stuart!"
He could only nod, frozen in place, and watch Wil Wheaton make his way through the store and inevitably encounter Amy Farrah Fowler.
Wil did a double-take, watching Amy turn from the end of the display and move back, his eyes traveling downward. Stuart couldn't blame him; the woman's hips had a come-hither quality to them. And 'come-hither' is exactly what he did.
"Hi there," Wil called.
Amy glanced up at him and then around, then having ascertained that he was indeed talking to her, said: "Hello."
He gave her the charming smile that had served him well back when he was a teenage pin-up boy. "Are you reading Sandman? Or are you currently collecting the Absolute editions?"
She tilted her head. "Huh?"
"That one," he pointed at the volume in her hands.
"Oh…" she replaced it on the shelf, shrugging. "I was just browsing. I'm not a fan of comic books. Though my boyfriend often insists that I try reading some, since he's addicted to them. Not that he would ever admit it."
"Your boyfriend," Wil echoed. "I see. So that's what a vixen like you is doing in a place like this."
"Excuse me?" Amy started, and Stuart swore he could detect the faintest hint of a rosy flush upon her cheeks.
Wil smoothly pretended not to notice her flustered reaction and asked: "Is he here? Your boyfriend?"
"Oh, yes. He's over there." She gestured at the far section. "That tall man wearing a Flash shirt."
Wil's mouth dropped open and he stood there looking like a fish out of water for a few moments, before he pulled himself together and cried: "Sheldon? Are you actually saying… that you're going out with Sheldon?"
This time, she blushed outright and beamed with pure pleasure. "Yes… sometimes I can't believe if myself either, but dreams do come true."
He blinked. Then he said: "Uh, right. So your boyfriend is Sheldon, huh… we actually know each other, he might've mentioned that to you? I'm Wil Wheaton."
"Oh! Wil Wheaton, who was in Star Trek, and used to be his enemy but is now his close personal friend." She took the hand he offered and shook it. "I'm Amy Farrah Fowler."
"It's nice to meet you, Amy. If you're willing to learn, I can teach you the basics. Of comic books, I mean." He extended a hand, gallantly allowing her to walk slightly ahead and they moved to a display against the far wall, still conversing. Stuart strained, but he couldn't hear their words anymore.
At that moment Sheldon stepped up the counter with a thin stack of comic books and two action figures. "Stuart, please attend, I've made my selections."
"Yeah, coming," he murmured, joining Sheldon at the counter but unable to keep from sneaking glances at the friendly-looking pair of new acquaintances.
"There weren't a lot of good titles from today's stock, I must say," Sheldon complained. "I would've rechecked but time's a-ticking, and that vixen would be giving me a heart-melting look while batting her lashes to make me feel guilty."
"Uh-huh, uh-huh," he murmured, breath held as he watched Wil cocking his head towards Sheldon, and Amy shrugging. Wil appeared to gasp in disbelief.
Sheldon never stopped talking. "I'm sure she's still displeased with today's stopover, so I got her these action figures. Leonard says they're a bad idea, but these Spock and Uhura figures are the ones from the reboot and inexplicably romantically-linked." He wrinkled his nose and shuddered. "Having been influenced by Penny and Bernadette, Amy has a predilection for romantic trappings now, and I'm sure she'd want to display the representation of a romantic couple on her desk."
"Oh, I see," Stuart muttered, wrapping Sheldon's purchases, while keeping one eye on Wil and Amy. Wil whispered in her ear, and she drew back, looking surprised and waving a hand as if in dismissal. He patted her shoulder reassuringly, continuing to tell her something.
"So umm…" Sheldon bit his lip. "Leonard was saying that today's haul is pretty substantial, since we're also getting that replica of Excalibur, so what about a discount of twenty percent on everything?"
"Yeah, sure," Stuart said quickly, ogling his viewing subjects in earnest. They were laughing; Amy with her head thrown back and Wil putting a companionable hand upon the crook of her arm.
"Really? That's great… what are you looking at? Stuart!"
"Nothing," he squeaked, guiltily waving his hands to block the view as Sheldon's gaze followed where he had previously been staring.
Wil touched Amy's purple barrette and pointed at the same shade of purple stripes on her cardigan. Her mouth formed the word "Thanks," before forming that shadow of her bashful smile, which she had also once given to Stuart… the full glow of that particular smile was only ever bestowed upon Sheldon.
Sheldon, who was presently glaring at Wil Wheaton with chillingly blue eyes. He drew himself to his full height, squaring his shoulders, which Stuart had never noticed to be quite that broad. "Umm, Sheldon, I don't think…"
Sheldon ignored him completely and stalked towards the pair, leaving Stuart no choice but to tail after him. The tall, eerily silent man grasped Wil's shoulder and spun him round so they were face-to-face.
"Hey, Sheldon!" Wil grinned.
"Sheldon!" Amy exclaimed. "I finally met your friend, Wil Wheaton. I didn't know that people involved in Star Trek could be this enjoyable and interesting."
Wil gently elbowed her. "You flatter me…"
Sheldon had been gawking at his girlfriend in dismay. He sharply looked up and glowered at Wil. "What are you trying to pull, Wheaton?"
"I was just talking to Amy. She's great."
"She certainly is, that's why she's my girlfriend," he growled. "And how dare you hover around my girlfriend, pawing her with sticky hands and stinking the air with testosterone, after I had considered you one of my close personal friends?"
"But Sheldon—eep!" She stiffened when he leaned close to her face.
"Amy. Let me handle this."
She nodded mutely.
"Relax Sheldon," Wil drawled. "We were only talking."
"Ah yes, talking, and it is with smooth-talking that the evil wolf lures the pure-hearted maid from the path," Sheldon hissed through gritted teeth. "You're not fooling anyone, Wil Wheaton, least of all me."
Wil smirked and in a voice so low that Stuart couldn't be sure he heard, said: "If you're so smart, you should know better than to leave your fascinating girlfriend alone in a place like this."
"Traitor!" Sheldon howled. "From this day onward, you are once again my mortal enemy, and not simply a mortal enemy but number one on my list—my arch-nemesis! Never let me see you within thirty meters of my girlfriend again or I will completely crush you, Wesley Crusher!"
With those words, Sheldon took a stunned Amy by the hand and pulled her away, back to the counter. Stuart found himself following behind once more.
Sheldon immediately dropped her hand but inquired: "Are you alright, Amy?" He peered closely at her.
"Of course I am, why wouldn't I be?"
"He touched you, that trickster did," he snarled. "I don't trust him."
"But I thought he was nice…" she said. "He seemed to be fond of you too. I was thinking, since you wanted me to know about Star Trek, we could watch The Next Generation—that's where Wil Wheaton was, right? He was your favorite character."
He gazed down at her, his eyes wide with horror and his shoulders shaking with anger. "No Amy. Firstly, if we're going to get you started watching Star Trek, it would have to be the original series before others. And secondly, I will not tolerate you having anything to do with Wil Wheaton."
She gazed up at him, green eyes remorseful, lashes fluttering twice. "I'm sorry Sheldon, please don't be angry. I didn't think you'd be this uncomfortable about me talking to Wil Wheaton, you did say he was your friend after all."
"I'm not angry at you, don't apologize," he said. "He's a devious devil. Besides, you can't help having those cheekbones and that beckoning pelvis."
She pecked him on the lips and hugged him. Slowly, he placed his arms around her. When they finally drew apart, she looked past him and winked.
Stuart followed her line of sight and saw Wil Wheaton at the door, smiling approvingly and giving her a thumbs-up sign before leaving.
"I'd like to take my purchases now," Sheldon announced.
"That would be eighty-eight dollars and twenty-five cents." He held out his hand.
"No. It would in fact be seventy dollars and sixty cents, for while you were engrossed with watching Wheaton cornering my girlfriend, you gave me a twenty percent discount on all of today's purchases." Sheldon gave him the exact amount. "And that would include the Excalibur replica that Leonard will be buying."
Stuart groaned and slapped himself on the forehead. Sheldon said to Amy: "Let's go. I regret to inform you that I would never be bringing you to this place again. It's simply too dangerous for an exceedingly attractive female to come in here."
She ducked, biting back a chuckle. When she clasped Sheldon's hand, he glanced at their joined hands then back at her. Before he could protest, she led the way out of the comic book store.
"She's a vixen indeed," Stuart muttered under his breath. Perhaps it was for the best to let someone like Sheldon Cooper handle her after all.