“I still can’t believe you made those kindergartners cry,” Missy remarked. “It was only a song!”
On the other side of the checkered tablecloth, Sheldon snorted, giving his sister a look of derision. This look was similar to the expression he had clearly communicated to the tone-deaf choir of children minutes earlier, only Missy had built up immunity to its effects. Leonard was glad; listening to high-pitched sobbing once was already too much.
“Yeah, we know, Sheldon. Their version of ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ wasn’t historically accurate.” Leonard rolled his eyes and shoveled a forkful of pie into his mouth. The humid Texas air was beginning to cool off, and the surrounding chatter from neighboring picnickers was waning as well. When Mary had called a few weeks before, Leonard wasn’t sure if he would take up the invitation to spend the Fourth of July weekend with his roommate’s family. But Sheldon had insisted that Leonard go with him, and that was that. Apparently making the transition to boyfriend did not grant him bedroom access, but shared family vacations were a-ok.
“Wait, where are you going?” Leonard spoke up as Sheldon suddenly shifted beside him and rose to his feet.
“The fireworks will start in approximately five minutes,” Sheldon replied. He reached for a folded blue cloth sitting beside the picnic basket. Leonard had noticed the extra blanket, but no one had mentioned its purpose. He had assumed it was an emergency spare and dismissed it from his mind.
“Shelly has his own little spot where he watches the fireworks,” Mary explained.
“Oh, ok,” Leonard commented, giving a little nod. That made sense; Sheldon’s tendencies to seek the ideal spot would never falter in the face of a community event, after all. Leonard felt a flutter of nervousness as his roommate stepped away. The Cooper family was extremely nice, but his relationship with them had not progressed past that awkward politeness that characterized new dating couples, in spite of knowing them for the past nine years. It was one thing to be their son / brother’s friend slash roommate slash social mediator, but another entirely to be the object of Sheldon’s romantic disinterest.
Sheldon halted in his tracks a few feet away, turning to stare at Leonard with a furrowed brow. “Aren’t you accompanying me?” he questioned incredulously.
“What? Oh! Sure, just let me…” Leonard mumbled back in surprise. Placing his half-eaten dessert plate on the blanket, the shorter scientist scrambled to his feet. Pretending he didn’t see the looks the rest of the Coopers were giving him, Leonard nevertheless felt his ears burn as he followed his friend towards the clearing.
“In spite of my frequent letter writing, the negligent town officials do not consider the basic premises of air resistance or gravitational acceleration when launching the fireworks. They just run towards the shiny things and light them with no regard to trajectory safety,” Sheldon remarked as the two ventured further and further away from the crowd. “Additionally, the launch tubes are not the same diameter as the fireworks, and they frequently misfire.”
“That’s er, unfortunate,” Leonard replied, peering around his friend as Sheldon abruptly stopped. “Is this your spot?”
Giving an affirmative answer, Sheldon allowed Leonard to take one side of the blanket in his arms. As the two spread the cloth across the smooth grass a few streaks of blue and yellow burst into sky with a loud crackle.
“This is nice.” Leonard sank to the ground and sprawled out on his back.
“It’s certainly not the most unpleasant way to observe science,” Sheldon replied easily, mimicking his friend’s descent with a little more paranoid hesitation.
Relaxing as the pop! pop! pop! of exploding rockets continued to bring colorful visions, Leonard tensed as Sheldon suddenly rolled over onto his side and pressed his head against the other boy’s.
“W-wha-what are you doing?” Leonard sputtered. He instinctively tried to pull away in order to look up at Sheldon, but he caught himself at the last second.
“Providing body contact as per a couple’s right to physical intimacy.” Sheldon’s eyes were calculating, not that Leonard could see them, but he could feel them. “Is this arrangement not satisfactory?”
Leonard let out a strangled chuckle, quickly turning it into a cough. Bad move Leonard thought a second later, expecting his hypochondriac boyfriend to move away. Surprisingly, Sheldon remained in his awkward position.
“Oh, no no. This is fine. Great, actually. But um, you’re not quite… doing it right. I can’t move my arm,” Leonard explained. “Here, just stay there and I’ll…” Slowly pulling away, Leonard shifted up a few inches to free his arm previously pinned to his side. Gently wrapping his arm around Sheldon’s shoulders, Leonard tugged the scientist towards his chest. Sheldon did not resist Leonard’s embrace, even as his cheek pressed against rumpled fabric.
“Yeah. There we go,” Leonard breathed. He couldn’t resist dropping a kiss on the top of Sheldon’s head. The other boy let out a muffled snort.
“Mm,” Sheldon pondered the question. “Your body does provide adequate cushioning. I can’t watch the fireworks like this, however.”
Realizing that this was true, Leonard felt a pang of disappointment, reluctantly loosening his grip. Sheldon drew away from the crook of his arm and inclined his head towards the sky. The fireworks were coming faster now, decorating the dark night with hues of every color.
“This could still work… c’mon, roll over,” Leonard spoke up after a few minutes. Sheldon glanced towards him, puzzled, but obeyed his friend’s motions. As Sheldon returned to his original position flat on his back, Leonard curled up on him, throwing an arm around Sheldon’s stomach. Sheldon hesitantly wrapped an arm around the snuggler, and was rewarded with a nuzzle.
“Now you can’t see the fireworks,” Sheldon pointed out the obvious.
“Don’t care,” Leonard mumbled back. “I like this better.”
Ignoring Sheldon’s tsking, Leonard was content to spend the rest of the event right where he was. And that’s just what he did.