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Epilogue

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Leonard was still inside Sheldon, panting like a dog when he heard the incoming text message.
 
He looked at his phone and saw the time. Oh, no.
 
He read the message.
 
Raj and Howard. Twenty minutes top to get themselves together. Twenty minutes to make everything seem... normal?
 
In his panic, Leonard made three major mistakes.
 
The first mistake was grabbing a shirt off his bed stand to wipe the semen off of Sheldon's belly. It was Sheldon's shirt.
 
"Leonard! They don't make a bleach alternative strong enough to make this wearable again!"
 
The second was suggesting they save time by showering together.
 
"Why, that's a great idea, Leonard. First we'll take a shower together and then we'll go buy a van and follow the Grateful Dead around the country. I hear they are groovy. Shall I call you Lenny from now on? By the way, that was sarcasm!"
 
He let Sheldon get in the shower first and then just jumped in after him.
 
"I see we need to revisit the roommate agreement."
 
Sheldon seemed totally unaffected by what they had just done. He went through his usual showering routine, with the occasional glare in Leonard's direction. Sheldon had yet to make eye contact but was far from unusual. Sheldon often avoiding looking at people or "cheated" and stared people in the eyebrow.
 
Leonard was feeling affected. Very very affected and utterly incapable of dealing with this... affection.
 
Not the word he was looking for. After he managed to get most of the soap off, Leonard ran to his room to toss on clothes and then to Sheldon's room to get yet another outfit.
 
Friday's outfit. Sheldon currently had nine pairs of pants so it was a simple nine day rotation.  Khakis were up. 12 days rotation on undershirts... black and yellow striped long sleeve. What was the algorithm for tee-shirts? It's a thirty day month, with four Fridays. Last month had five Fridays so... the Flash? He went thru the calculations again. The Flash. Searching for the right Flash tee-shirt, he noticed the shirt he had made for Sheldon after their trip to the North Pole was shoved way back in the closet behind a ratty sweater. He could have sworn Sheldon liked the shirt when he gave it to him...
 
Why was he trying to understand Sheldon? You can't understand the why of Sheldon, you can only study the patterns.
 
Underwear and socks from the Friday bins... Or should it be Wed? It should be Wednesday socks and underwear. Why else would they be sorted into bins with no schematic in place to keep them from being unevenly worn. He put the clothes in the shower and encouraged Sheldon to hurry up.
 
"Of course, Leonard. While I speed thru my showering routine, would you be a lamb and grow two inches taller? Everything's possible when Leonard Hofstader is in a hurry..."
 
He closed the door behind him and then there was a knock.
 
Just be cool. Be normal. Be cool. Be normal.
 
 
 
Howard and Raj were all a-twitter from a lecture at the planetarium. They were already opening the Thai food when Raj asked, "Where's Sheldon?"
 
"In the shower."
 
Howard dropped his fork. "Sheldon is taking a shower this close to Halo time? Did you sneeze on him?
 
"And why are you all wet," added Raj, "I thought you had to take your showers after Sheldon so he had time to properly bleach away your epidermal sludge before his next shower."
 
Leonard realized his third mistake. He didn't have a cover story for why Sheldon had strayed from his schedule. Leonard's mind was blank.
 
"Were you running away from a dog?" asked Howard.
 
"Did someone give you swirlies?" Raj's face was the picture of empathy.
 
"We were..." Anything. Anything! "We were having sex."
 
It felt good to say it. And now it could never be unsaid.
 
The shower stopped.
 
 
 
Sheldon looked at his Friday outfit hanging on the door. Wednesday socks and underwear. He was impressed. For a genius, Leonard was often slow to pick up simple things like a rotating monthly tee-shirt schedule. Too bad the Flash was a red shirt. He was not about to put on a red shirt. His cheeks warmed at the memory of his loss of control. Just the tip of the embarrassing iceberg that kept slogging through his normally sharp mind.
 
He could hear Howard and Raj laughing, he needed to pick out a new shirt quickly. He darted to his room and scanned for a shirt with no uncomfortable red on it. At the back of his closet, behind the sweater Meemaw had knitted him when he moved to the east coast for his second Ph.D. was his "Welcome to Flatland" tee-shirt. Leonard had given it to him over a year ago but he had yet to put it in his monthly rotation. It was royal blue with periwinkle writing. The line segments were assorted shades of blue, brown and white.
 
"I thought the blue would bring out your eyes," Leonard had explained, "and it's a conversation starter so it will bring out your crazy."
 
Sheldon put the shirt on. The light refraction from the shirt emphasized the blue of his eyes. Sheldon wondered if it made him look more attractive. He thought he had moved past this nonsense.
 
Leonard was clearing away any damning evidence of what had just occurred between them.
 
Sheldon imagined he could see a streak on the mirror. He needed to clean the mirror. He needed to clean all the mirrors. He needed to take another shower.
 
"Get your ass out here, Sheldon!" bellowed Howard, sounding remarkably like his mother.
 
He would play Halo. Leonard would probably forget all about what had happened. How Sheldon had reacted. Leonard was capable of forgetting. Sheldon would remember crying and whimpering like... who? Who acted like that? Sheldon looked at his reflection but not in the eye. He focused on his eyebrows.
 
 
 
Sheldon walked into the room wearing the "Flatlands" shirt. What did that mean?
 
"So, Sheldon, what's up with the late evening shower?" Raj asked the moment Sheldon appeared.
 
Leonard dropped his head into his hands.
 
"Leonard and I played a rousing game of Dance, Dance Revolution and we both perspired as a result of the activity."
 
Sheldon's face was impassive but Leonard heard the smugness in his voice. He was so proud of his cleverness.
 
Leonard could have thought of something. Should have thought of something. Owed it to Sheldon's honor? dignity? to come up with something.
 
"Is the horizontal mambo a new download for DDR?" asked Raj with exaggerated curiosity.
 
"Or were you doing the dance that 'dares not speak its name?'" snorted Howard.
 
Sheldon looked confused.
 
"Cool it, guys. It's Halo time, " snapped Leonard. He could barely look at Sheldon.
 
"You guys need a new TV," whined Raj, "You should register for one."
 
Howard snarfed his juice box.
 
"I don't understand your use of the term register in that statement." Sheldon was honestly baffled. This was going to be so bad.
 
"Never mind," snorted Howard, "What are the teams this week? Is it my turn to be Leonard's best man?"
 
Raj sighed, "Story of my life. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride."
 
Leonard felt sick. Sheldon still looked mildly confused.
 
"Sheldon... I told them."
 
"Told them what?"
 
"Really? I need to elaborate after a bridesmaid joke? ... I told them, why we needed showers. I told them the truth."

Sheldon's face was totally blank but his cheeks were flushed. He stared Leonard right in the eyebrows and asked, "Why?"
 
"I just... I didn't want to lie." And it wasn't a lie.
 
Howard threw his hands in the air, "It's no big deal, guys! So you're hooking up? You've been making Leonard your bitch for years, now it's official."
 
"It was always a matter of time. I've read enough trashy novels to know this was the inevitable trajectory of your bromance. Accept that you are a cliche and let's play Halo," added Raj.
 
Sheldon was still staring at Leonard and Leonard had no answers for the questions bubbling just under the surface of that seemingly placid face.
 
"C'mon, Sheldon," wheedled Howard, "We have to bust chops. It's a social convention. We make jokes, cast aspersions, lighten the mood and then we can all move on."
 
Maybe that would have worked if Penny hadn't chosen that moment to arrive.
 
Howard yelled, "Come in" at the sound of knocking.
 
Penny took in the tension in the room, Sheldon's red face and the way Leonard was slumped so far in his seat he was almost on the floor. She forgot all about her broken laptop.
 
"What's going on?"
 
Sheldon snapped back to 'normal'.
 
"Well, what good timing! You've come just in time to play crazy world!" announced Sheldon, standing up and making a grand sweeping gesture around the room, "We're in a world where I'm the only person who can keep a secret and Howard is the nice one! Maybe you'd like to write some quadratic formulas on my white board while Raj fills you in on the latest gossip!"
 
"What's going on?"
 
"Go ahead, Raj, fill 'er in!" continued Sheldon sounding disturbingly cheerful and Texan.
 
Raj stared at Penny with huge eyes as his mouth opened and closed like a landed fish.
 
But Sheldon was right. It was crazy world and Raj was just able to squeak out, "Leonard is doing Sheldon!"
 
 
 
"We'll talk later," Penny had promised Sheldon.
 
"We'll talk later," Penny had threatened Leonard.
 
Raj and Sheldon thoroughly whipped Leonard and Howard. Howard explained to Raj the term was '69' not '96'. Howard made a six and a nine with his fingers and demonstrated, rather obscenely, that the order of the numbers was significant.
 
"Like Hofstader a few hours ago, you are going down, Raj!"
 
"As Sheldon was saying to Leonard right before we got here... You can suck it, my tiny friend."
 
Sheldon glared and looked prudishly uncomfortable but that was baseline for the sheltered Texan.
 
Leonard laughed at the better zingers. It helped if he didn't look at Sheldon. He kept Raj and Howard as long as he could but it was only delaying the inevitable. He was going to be flayed alive by a man one lab accident away from being a supervillan.
 
 
 
Sheldon sat on the couch, in his spot, looking down at Flatland, perhaps mid-visit.
 
"The shirt looks good on you."
 
"Does it?"
 
"Um, yeah. It makes your eyes... 'pop'? I think I'm using that word right."
 
"We can ask Penny when she speaks to us later."
 
"Yeah."
 
"Leonard?"
 
"Yeah?"
 
"Why does Penny want to talk to us later?"
 
Leonard shrugged and sat down on the couch next to Sheldon, making a point to leave plenty of personal space, "I think she wants to offer you friendship and support and she wants to rip me a new one for thinking with my penis."
 
"I wish you had told me in advance that you were intending to inform our social circle of my, our actions." Freudian slip. That meant something.
 
"I didn't intend to tell anyone, it just came out, " it sounded lame to Leonard and yet, "Why should we have to keep secrets from our best friends? I'm not sorry they know but I am sorry I made the decision for you. That was wrong."
 
Sheldon's posture was stiff as a board and his face impassive. Mr. Spock couldn't have looked more stoic.
 
Leonard gave Sheldon a very quick and very awkward hug, "I'm so sorry, Buddy. Your friendship is really important to me."
 
Then he hid in his room.
 
 
 
Leonard was wide awake when Sheldon began knocking. How would he ever sleep in this bed again?
 
When Sheldon entered the room, he stared at the bed as though he hadn't expected it to still be there. Like Leonard should have had the decency to burn it and Sheldon's semen covered Green Lantern shirt to boot.
 
"I would like to make a request, Leonard."
 
"Go on, " Leonard's mouth was suddenly dry with a mix of hope and fear.
 
"I would prefer you not discuss the details of our encounter with others in re my... lack of skill and endurance." He didn't even pretend to look Leonard in the face. He just stared at the wall.
 
"It's not like it was my shining moment of bedroom prowess..."
 
"It wasn't?"
 
"God, no! I can usually last longer and..."
 
"Don't tell anyone I cried."
 
"Your eyes were watery, there's a difference as I've said..."
 
"I can't imagine how you could have improved your performance."
 
"Is that a challenge?"
 
"A statement of fact. A challenge would be more along the lines of 'I dare you to improve upon your earlier performance'".
 
Sheldon looked him in the eye. Leonard accepted the challenge.
 
For once, Sheldon did not mind admitting that Leonard was right.