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The Answer Lies In Love

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Sheldon loves Leonard. He wants nothing more than to be the man's roommate for the rest of his (hopefully immortal) life. And, up until a few days ago he assumed he would be. He had no idea that Leonard would ever even consider moving out much less for a silly reason as he annoys him. Of course, he annoys him. Leonard is no prize friend either. Why, if he had a nickel for the times the small man said something so illogical, so... infuriating, why he would be a very rich man. The fact that Leonard would throw away a friendship over something so trivial baffles him and he realizes that perhaps he should start treating their relationship more gently. In addition to actually celebrating Leonard's Day perhaps he should begin doing little niceties for the man each day such as thanking him for the transportation he provides him to places or the dinner he always goes out of his way to pick up. Sure, these things are written into the roommate and friendship agreements but Leonard is sentimental like that. He would appreciate good manners from Sheldon.

It had not occurred to him until this point that perhaps the reason for all of his hesitance along with Amy is due to Leonard. He knows that he does not want Amy to move in with him because it would mean that Leonard would not be able to live there any longer which is not something he would ever be okay with. But it seems to be more than that. He does not want their physical relationship to progress any further. He's already uncomfortable with the level of where it is now.

Leonard was on his way to the lunch room when he was stopped by Howard in the hallway.

“Hey, have you seen Raj anywhere? He was supposed to help me with my work before lunch but I haven't seen him since this morning.”

The vertically challenged physicist shrugged, only half listening to his friend. “No, sorry.” He was way too hungry to be bothered with Wolowitz's problems right now. He was ravenous and ready to get something of sustenance in his stomach, having only ate a small bagel at breakfast.

“Okay, thanks... “ Howard muttered distractedly, turning back to wander off the way he came.

Leonard continued his journey to the cafeteria, quickly spotting his roommate's tall stature in the lunch line. He made his way over to him, feeling just a bit awkward and hesitant still, after the fight they'd had the day before. He figured it was best to move on, though. They'd made amends... sort of. There had been no apologizing from either of the men but then again, that really wasn't the sort of thing they did in their relationship. It was just sort of understood that they would be okay and that everything was fine between them. No apologies necessary.

Sheldon turned around when he felt a presence behind him in the line. He smiled gently down at his friend before turning back around to move forward with the momentum of the queue.

“So... grilled cheese today.” Leonard mumbled, feeling uneasy about the silence between them. He'd always had trouble with silence. Not quite sure where it came from, he'd always just felt the need to fill pauses in conversation with his own speech. It didn't matter what he said, as long as he said something to fill the void. It was no doubt another troubling remnant of his upbringing by his mother, Beverly.

Sheldon glanced over his shoulder at the shorter man. “Yes... unfortunately for you, you will be unable to taste nor savor the splendor and deliciousness of the meal.”

Leonard made a face from behind the man, mocking his friend while standing just out of sight of him.

“I do believe I see some nice and hearty tomato soup, however.” His roommate added, in his most reassuring voice.

The queue moved up slightly as a more comfortable pause in the conversation washed over them. The normal sounds of a busy cafeteria swirled all around them. Suddenly, a redheaded girl with pigtail braids slammed into Leonard, nearly knocking him to the ground. Both, her large bowl of hot, tomato soup and her glass of Coke spilled onto his cherished military jacket, dousing him completely.

Sheldon had jumped back, in an effort to protect himself from the flying fluids and now looked on from where he stood, nearly a foot away. The girl began apologizing profusely as Leonard appraised the damage. He nodded at her condolences and waved away her concern with a grim but understanding smile. She was soon joined by a man dressed in steam punk style clothes. He gave the physicist an apologetic smile and pressed a handkerchief into his hand before turning to her, an incredulous expression playing across his face. The two of them collected her tray and various trash before walking off together.

“This is my favorite jacket!” Leonard complained eyeing the stains and failing to do much good cleaning up with the handkerchief he had been given. “I'm gonna go clean this up.” he mumbled resignedly to his friend.

Sheldon watched the man go with a sympathetic frown playing across his face. When he turned to face the line again however, his smile returned full force. “Oh, goody! Oh, goody! I'm next!”

Leonard was in the laundry room when Penny walked in, surprised to see him there at that time of day.

“Hello... you're doing your laundry at 3:30? Didn't you just get off work?” she asked as she set her own basket of clothes down on the folding table.

“Yeah... “ he grimaced. “I'm just doing my jacket. It was ruined earlier today so I wanted to get it in the wash as soon as possible.”

Penny opened one of the washer's lids and began dumping her clothes inside, not wanting to be late for work again. “Oh... sorry. I know how much you love that thing. You almost never take it off.”

“Yeah... “ he trailed off slamming the washer's lid closed. The stains were probably cemented in the coat by now but he had to at least try, right? He self-consciously tugged on the gray hoodie he was wearing, not used to being without his jacket.

Penny gave him a small smile as she closed the lid to her washer. “Well, all hope isn't lost. I mean, you might be able to get the stains out. What did you spill?”

“Nothing! It was this girl in the lunchroom.” he sighed. “It was tomato soup.”

Her eyes widened comically and he smiled slightly at the sight. “Oh! Wow! Honey, I don't think you're gonna get that out.”

“Yeah... probably not.” he shrugged. “Guess I gotta go clothes shopping.”

She nodded at him cordially before leaning in to kiss his cheek. “Well, I gotta go back upstairs, I have to be at work in like 2 hours.”

He grinned at her, watching her retreat. “Okay... see ya later.”

Turning back to scowl at the washer, he watched as it begun its cycle. He sighed dramatically.

...

Leonard wandered down the hall on his way to the kitchen, not feeling entirely awake yet. He idly rubbed at his eyes under his glasses and yawned into his fist. As he approached their kitchen, he noticed a black and brown striped cat sitting on top of the table. He paused, blinking a few times at it watching as it blinked back at him in return. It seemed to regard him for a moment before returning to cleaning its paws.

“Sheldon?” he called out warily over his shoulder. What had the man done now? Not another cat.

His friend strolled out of the hallway calmly. “Yes?”

“Did you get another cat?” he asked him, exasperated.

Sheldon gave him a look that screamed condescension. “Oh Leonard, of course not.”

Leonard eyed the man dubiously and waited for him to continue.

“I adopted her for both of us to love and enjoy.”

The homunculus rolled his eyes and tugged at his bathrobe in annoyance as Sheldon moved to pick up their new pet, Tigris.

“Sheldon... “ he began but paused when their home phone began to ring. He walked over and picked it up. “Hello?”

The taller physicist held Tigris in his arms and began stroking her soft coat.

“Uh... yeah, hold on.” Leonard held out the phone to his friend suddenly looking very concerned. “Sheldon... it's Missy.”

He gave him a puzzled look as he set their new pet down. “Why on earth would my sister be calling?”

Leonard bit his lip in concern and shook the handset at him urgently. “Sheldon! It's about your mom.”

His eyes widened and he quickly took the cordless phone. “Hello?”

The small cat scampered off in the direction of their bedrooms. The bespectacled man watched his friend in concern as he spoke to his twin sister.

Sheldon swallowed. “But... that's... not possible.”

Leonard frowned at the look on his friend's face. He feared the worst, only having been told that Mrs. Cooper was in the hospital by Missy.

“Okay... yes... goodbye.” Sheldon hung up the phone, pausing for a moment to stare at the handset.

“Is everything okay, Sheldon?” he placed a hesitant hand on the taller man's shoulder.

“My mother is in the hospital. She suffered a stroke and is currently recovering. I'm going to go home to visit her. I'll have to take some time off of work, of course.”

Leonard nodded, feeling very wary of his friend's current mental state. “Of course.” he muttered gently.

Sheldon met his deep brown eyes and locked onto them with his own bright blue ones. “Will you come with me?”

Leonard could see the fear in them, mixed with a bit of sadness and without hesitating, nodded at him. “Of course, I will.”

The two shared a look of distress as worry upon worry began to wash over them. A sense of dread filled the two of them as they began making plans for at least the next few weeks.

And, it was decided. He would arrange for Penny to check on Tigris now and then making sure she had plenty of food and the like while they were gone. They would each arrange time off from work, probably about 2-3 weeks depending and they would be flying out to Houston as soon as possible. It took some convincing but he was able to talk Sheldon into flying rather than taking a train.

The man wasn't completely bizarre. He did love trains and thus often chose it as a form of transportation rather than flying but that wasn't completely it. It had much more to do with the fact that since he'd had a quarter lodged in his nasal passages since the age of nine, it often took much longer to get through airport security than it took a regular passenger. Leonard felt that they needed to get there as soon as they could however due to the situation and convinced Sheldon that a plane would be much faster.

The next day they departed at 11:17 AM and were able to head to the hospital in Houston by 4:30 PM. Sheldon had been quiet, much too quiet the entire time. It wasn't just nerves on the flight, Leonard knew, but also the fact that he was probably reliving the situation he had gone through with his father. He couldn't imagine what the man was feeling. He had both of his parents still and despite their problems in their relationship he was still very glad they were both alive. Sheldon had already lost one parent and he didn't want to think what might happen should he lose his second.

It was bad news, really bad news. Missy had met them at the airport and filled them in on the details of what was going on. Mary had suffered a stroke while at home cleaning her kitchen. A family friend from church had stopped by to drop off some literature and found her lying on the floor. She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and Missy, being her emergency contact was phoned immediately. Mary had been admitted to the E.R. at first and later given a regular room and put under extra surveillance.

Leonard rented a car so that they would have their own transportation around the city and he and Sheldon traveled to Sheldon's childhood home to settle in for the evening. They'd made plans with Missy to go to the hospital first thing in the morning although Missy already seemed unnerved by Sheldon and they had only been around each other for an hour or so. Leonard doubted she would want to visit at the same time Sheldon did. He understood, after all, he didn't have a sparkling relationship with his siblings either.

They settled into their respective rooms, Sheldon sleeping in his old bedroom and Leonard taking the guest room. It was nearing nine o'clock already when Leonard shuffled down the stairs and into the kitchen. He found Sheldon staring at an open cabinet in silence.

“Sheldon?”

His friend turned, gazing at him with glazed over eyes, seeming to not really see him.

“Are you alright?” Leonard swallowed nervously.

“There's no tea.” he muttered numbly. He shut the cabinet quietly but left his hand resting on the aged wood.

The shorter man walked over to the pantry opening it up and peering inside. He found a box of “family sized” iced tea bags and reached in to pull them out. “She has these.” He shook the box slightly at Sheldon.

Deep blue eyes glided over to the bespectacled man and he nodded after a moment, reaching out for the box. He began making tea, following the directions on the box almost mechanically. Leonard watched him sadly for a moment before turning back towards the stairs, not knowing what to do or say. He made his way back upstairs opting to get some sleep for the day ahead tomorrow.