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The Exhalation Combustion Investigation

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Where do we go from here? A thousand thoughts were running through Amy's mind as she lay her head against Sheldon's chest and allowed him to wrap his arms tight around her, dancing to the music again. She closed her eyes.

She felt incandescent. Sheldon loves me. And he admitted it. In public. In front of our friends. But therein lied a quandary. She didn't want to stop dancing because she didn't want to face their friends just yet. They would bombard them with questions, probably rude ones from boys, and then Bernadette would squeal and Raj would cry. No, it was too much. She wanted to savor this moment with Sheldon, just Sheldon, for as long as she could.

"Sheldon?" She didn't move or look up.


"Let's get out of here." She felt Sheldon shift and look down at her.

"How do you propose we do that? Your car is at my apartment."

Oh, I haven't thought this through. "Can we get to my apartment on a bus from here?"

"Yes, there's one pulling up right now and -"

She interrupted him by jumping back and grabbing his arm. "Then let's go!" She started to drag him toward the door. His eyebrows shot up and he stood fixed for a moment, but then he gave into her tugs and practically stumbled as he raced out the door with her.

"It's a good thing I gave you a key. I can't believe I left my purse behind."

"I still can't believe I did that without my bus pants on! I'll bill you for the dry cleaning."


They just stood there in her apartment looking at each other. The thrill of rushing out just in time to catch the bus before it pulled away combined with the awkwardness they had both felt without a plan had rendered them mute almost the entire way here. The only thing they had discussed was the route and agreeing to turn off Sheldon's phone, which was ringing and pinging almost constantly.

"You got me here. What do you propose now?" Sheldon raised an eyebrow. Sweet Jesus, I love that look. Loving Sheldon was apparently turning her into a religious woman.

"You're going to stay the night." She said it with more boldness than she felt.

Sheldon started breathing harder and clutched at his shirt. "Oh, no! I told you I loved you. Nobody said anything about coitus!"

She reached up to touch his cheek. He jumped slightly. "Calm down. You're right, nobody said anything about coitus. You can sleep on the sofa and wear the pajamas in your Zombie Apocalypse kit." He visibly relaxed beneath her.

"Amy, it's the Emergency Sheltering kit. The Zombie Apocalypse kit is something else entirely different." Then he cocked his head. "I'm not sure if this qualifies as an emergency, but I agree to your terms."

She reached up for him, pulling him into a kiss, very gently at first and gradually their kisses grew warmer.

"Say it again," she blurted out when he paused to catch his breath.

He raised an eyebrow again. God, he is so sexy when he does that. "Only when we're alone. Do you understand, Dr. Fowler?"

She thought about pointing out he had just said it to her in the middle of crowded dance floor, but she was having too much fun flirting with him. "Oh, I understand, Dr. Cooper."

"Good." His face softened. "I love you, Amy."

"And I love you." They stood looking at each other for a minute, but not in awkwardness this time, instead just cherishing the words. Then a thought occurred to Amy. "We'd better at least text Leonard, otherwise they will all show up here and demand to be let in."

Sheldon groaned. "Agreed." He took his phone out of his pocket and turned it back on.

She moved toward the kitchen. "I'll make us some tea."

"I have six missed calls and 32 missed texts." Then he blushed rather violently as his eyes scanned the screen. "Maybe this does qualify as an emergency. There's no way I can go home tonight."

Amy was sorely tempted to ask what the texts said, but she just watched him type a quick message instead. Then he turned his phone off again.

She busied herself with kettle and the tea bags while Sheldon removed his jacket and moved to the sofa. That man knows how to wear a suit. "I never did tell you I love your costume. You look quite dapper in a bow tie."

He reached up to touch the red tie. "You look lovely, too. It's not what I thought you'd be wearing."

"Which variation did you think I'd choose?" She carried the mugs over to the sofa and sat down with Sheldon.

"I thought you'd have a wig and a gun."

"I did, but I decided not to wear them."

"Why not?"

She shrugged. "I guess I just wanted to be myself. I thought you might like it better."

Sheldon looked down at his tea. He whispered, "Thank you for coming tonight. I'm sorry I ruined the party for you."

Amy sat her mug down and reached for Sheldon's face, holding it in both of her hands. He looked up timidly. "You did not ruin the party for me. But if you insist on thinking that, you'll have to make it up to me by kissing me."

She reached over to kiss him again, and he responded to her. He backed up only to put his own mug down before pulling her closer to him, his mouth reaching for hers. There were only a couple of dry kisses before they merged, tongues tasting and relishing each other. Sheldon's lips then left her mouth and moved down her throat, leaving a trial of fire behind.

He reached her suprasternal notch and stopped there, pushing his lips in further and alternating kisses with little licks and what Amy thought felt like little sucks. Her heart was pounding so loudly she was surprised he couldn't hear it and there was the pulsing again and oh Lord . . .

When he stopped, Amy opened her eyes. He was staring back at her, asking her something with his own eyes. She smiled and whispered, "Go ahead. I picked it out for you on purpose."

Sheldon gave a little moan then, an actual audible moan, and then he dove back into her neck with such force she thought she was going to fall backwards. He started in the middle of her right collarbone and kissed his way out, to the very edges of her dress, each kiss more eager than the preceding. Then he worked his way back to her midline and out to the other side. Amy threw her head back and ran her hands through his hair. Everything was numb and tingly at the same time.

Something seemed to break open and suddenly Sheldon couldn't be contained, and he was kissing and licking and sucking and her chest and neck and ears and lips and was that a nibble? and even the top of her shoulders. He pulled her closer and closer, clawing at her dress and her hair until she was sitting on his lap. Amy could barely process all the emotions and sensations running through her body.

Then, just as suddenly as it started, it all stopped. Sheldon pulled back, breathing hard. "Amy, I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me."

Love, Sheldon. And hormones. But she didn't say that. Instead, she just reached up and undid the top button of her dress.

"Ooohhhhh boy." Now he sounded like he might truly hyperventilate. Amy decided to slow down for him, and reached up to his tie and gave a tug on of one the ends. Then she pulled it off. He was staring at her, still breathing hard but it didn't seem to be getting any worse. She lay the tie over the back of the sofa, and then returned to his shirt, working at the top button. Who knew a man's shirt is so hard to get off?

Sheldon didn't move to help her, but he didn't stop her either. She managed five buttons, enough to clearly see his white undershirt, before she looked back up at him. "Okay?" He nodded. "Shall I continue?"

He swallowed, and then said the quietest voice she'd ever heard him use, "No coitus?"

She shook her head. "No coitus. You tell me when to stop."

He nodded again. She reach back up to her own dress and started undoing the rest of the buttons, all the way to her waist. She watched Sheldon's face the entire time, him watching her torso, and although the heavy breathing continued, it seemed to be more regular now. She didn't lower her dress, she left it as a split down the middle. It felt safer that way. She knew there was black lace peeking out. I'm so glad I listened to the ghost of River Song.

She took his hand from where it was resting gently against her leg. She picked it up, still watching Sheldon. She paused for a moment, and he nodded. She took his hand, slipped it inside her dress and laid it on the flat upper part of her stomach. The movement caused her dress to open slightly wider. Sheldon closed his eyes then, and licked his bottom lip.

She waited while he took a few Kalinar breaths. She took her hand away, and his hand stayed were it was. It was soft and hot and a little damp and she could feel it tremble. Somehow this made her love him even more. He was obviously very nervous, but he was doing this with her. She was nervous too, but she felt better knowing that Sheldon was trusting her with this.

Sheldon opened his eyes again and looked at her. She nodded. Slowly, very slowly, she felt his hand move around to her side. She had expected this movement but she couldn't believe how it felt. Electric bolts were shooting off under her skin, from Sheldon's hand to her lips, to her heart, to her finger tips, to her . . . oh my. She closed her eyes and relished the palpitations as Sheldon explored her skin. Her waist, her stomach, her back, she felt him move slowly to everywhere he could reach, her dress slowly slipping down her shoulders. After what felt like both hours and mere seconds, his hand came back to rest where it started.

Amy opened her eyes and looked at him. She then reached up to the center of her bra, but Sheldon's other hand flew up to stop her. "No." He said it sharply. Then more gently, "I just want to remember this for now."

She gave him a little smile. "Okay."

He used both hands then to pull her close and give her a kiss on the forehead. Then he pulled her in even tighter for a hug. "Amy?" he said into her hair.


"If you like . . . if you move back a little . . . I'll. . .I'll do something for you."

Amy shifted off his lap, but sat still facing him, intrigued. Not making eye contact, Sheldon started to unbutton his shirt. Then he unbuttoned the cuffs. Then, still looking down, he slid it off. He held it there, in midair, looking first on one side and then the other. She couldn't help but giggle a little as she took it from him and neatly folded it over the back of the couch. Sheldon did look at her then, to give her a weak but grateful smile. He quickly put his head down again, took a deep breath, and lifted his undershirt over his head.

He glanced up at her, quickly, then looked down again. He didn't seem to know what to do with is arms, crossing them first and then laying them stiffly down at his sides. He kept his undershirt crumbled in his hand. Amy could tell he was embarrassed. She placed her hand upon his chest (so pale and flat and beautiful), right above his heart. He jumped slightly at the touch. She didn't move her hand. "Sheldon, look at me."

His blue eyes met her. "I love you, Sheldon. Please know that. I think you're beautiful. All of you. You do know this frightens me too?"

"I trust you, Amy. I trusted you long before I even knew it."

She felt a sob rising her throat. He had understood her. She dove into his bare chest and released four and a half years worth of frustrations and longing and joy upon it. Sheldon held her there and stroked her hair while she cried.


Thank you in advance for your reviews!

Chapter Text

Warm. Soft. So comforting. Like being in a cocoon. What was that little pressure on his side? It wasn't painful, it was oddly pleasant. This didn't make any sense. If he was floating in the vacuum of space outside the shuttle shouldn't it be cold instead? Wait, shouldn't he be dead?

Sheldon awoke with a start. What's happening? I'm asleep in Amy's bed. He relaxed. How strange the past eight hours have been. He looked down at the little head of brown hair nudging against him, almost like she was burrowing under him. He noticed that she didn't seem to have any blankets, they were all pulled over to his side. She must be cold. He gently tried to push them over to her, but it was incredibly hard. What kind of physics hell is this? Why is it so hard to move such a low mass object three feet? Finally he succeeded, and Amy seemed to calm down then.

He kept watching her, listening to her breathe. He never planned to end up here. But his relief was so great when Amy had finally managed to choke out that she was crying with joy, that he almost started to cry himself. Obviously this love business is going to turn me into a hippy. He surprised - no, shocked - himself by asking if she would like him to sleep next to her. He almost immediately regretted it, but she'd looked so pleased that he couldn't take it back.

Fear rising in his throat, he decided to approach the situation rationally. He was going to take a shower. Where were his pajamas? Were there clean sheets on the bed? Even the cold shower hadn't seemed to calm him. What if . . . what if . . . what if he touched Amy's skin again? Oh, Albert Einstein, this was a bad idea. He had put his undershirt back on under his pajamas and wrapped his emergency robe as tightly around his waist as he could.

So when he walked into Amy's bedroom, he was relieved to see she'd become shy, too. She was tucking in a fresh top sheet and was wearing a night gown to the floor, the neck firmly buttoned. She looked up at him quickly and blushed. Silently, he helped her with the blankets, removed his robe, and slid gingerly into bed next to her.

She said good night, and he returned the wish. Then she rolled over, her back to him, and fell asleep surprisingly fast. He puzzled about this for a little while, and then discovered that his own eyelids were so very heavy.

And now he lay here, in the middle of the night, awoken by his girlfriend (I'm in bed with a woman!), thinking that this was not altogether disagreeable. Obviously, waking like this wasn't good for his REM patterns, but it was otherwise tolerable.

He thought about putting out an arm to touch her, only to be suddenly overwhelmed with memories of last night. Just thinking about it flooded him desire, and he silently cursed his brain and his body. It was such an odd mix of confusing emotions he couldn't come up with a single word to describe the evening. He had been so terrified and embarrassed, and the only thing that gave him the strength to continue was the fear in Amy's eyes even though she was working so hard to appear calm and in control. He had been excited and intrigued to discover that apparently he was visually stimulated like most males and the mixture of creamy skin and black lace almost killed him and Amy was so beautiful and her skin was so soft and . . . he tried to breathe through it all. He both wanted to touch her flesh again immediately and never even see it again at the same time.

Finally, his breathing exercises helped him calm down, and he rolled over carefully, away from Amy. He started playing Raiders of the Lost Ark in his mind until he fell back asleep.

When he awoke again, he was struck by how sad and empty he instantly felt. How strange. He opened his eyes to see a vacant expanse of bed next to him. Amy isn't here. His heard sounds in the kitchen.

He rose and put his robe on and headed out to the kitchen.

"Good morning, Sheldon." Her head was down, busy with something at the stove.

"Good morning, Amy."

"I'm sorry if I woke you. I don't remember what you eat on Sunday mornings, so I'm making pancakes."

"I'll make you a schedule for future reference." She looked up at him then and smiled. I've pleased her. He had that odd feeling he sometimes had around Amy that some logical thing he said was more than just logic to her. "What time is it? I left my phone out here."

"Almost ten-thirty."

10:30! Am I sick? He touched his forehead to see if it felt hot. No, 98.6 degrees exactly.

Amy spoke again. "We both slept late. I presume because we were emotionally and physically exhausted last night."

Just like that, casually, while flipping a pancake onto a plate, Amy had said the right thing, clarifying the situation. What an uncanny ability she has!

"Tea or orange juice?"

"Juice, please." He picked up the plates and carried them to the table. Amy brought over two glasses of juice and sat down with him. They ate silently for a few minutes. Sheldon was surprised at his appetite, he couldn't remember the last time he was this hungry.

"What should we do today?" He broke the silence. He needed a plan.

She shrugged. "At some point we'll have to go back to your apartment to get my car and purse."

The thought of returning to his apartment made Sheldon nervous. Which was strange, as returning home was usually comforting to him. Then he thought of all those pornographic text messages he'd seen last night, and he had to swallow.

"Amy, what do you propose we tell the others?"

"That we slept together." She smirked at him.

Sheldon was startled at first but then he laughed. "Oh, I get it. We tell them something technically true but that has another colloquial connotation. No doubt they won't be smart enough to figure out the truth."

He continued to smile. This plan was appealing. It made him think of their experiment in rumors a couple of years ago. Then he remembered that part of that experiment involved implying coitus, and his smile faded. Then, it was a joke. Today it felt different, wrong somehow.

"I don't know. We did that once before. Surely they will all be more suspicious this time? Besides," he was thinking aloud, "at that point coitus was not an option for me. Now, I expect I'll be sharing coitus with you at some point in the next calendar year -"

Amy dropped her fork, and it landed on her plate with loud clang. She looked alarmed. What had happened? It's not like Amy to have such poor fine motor control. "Amy, are you all right?"

"You . . . you think we'll have coitus in the next year?"

Her confusion confused him. "Yes, of course. If you extrapolate the trajectory of our physical steps, it clearly leads there. All you have to do is calculate the average number of days between each new activity and you arrive at 330 days from today with a margin of error of 6 days. Obviously."

"Obviously." She said it calmly but looked nervous. Sheldon cocked his head, but decided to change the subject. There was something more pressing than the adolescent reactions of their friends he wanted to discuss.

"Amy, have you thought anymore about the job at Berkley?"

She picked up her fork again and waved her other hand. "I'm not taking it."

He was surprised by her quick answer, even though he felt some pressure leave his chest. "When did you decide that?"

"Last night. When we were dancing."

The pressure returned. Oh no. Two nights ago, he hadn't understood at all. Now he understood too well. He knew he needed to tread lightly here. (Honestly, how do I know that? Has the spirit of Leonard overtaken me? Does love make you a hippy and smarter? That is preposterous.)

Sitting his fork down, he reached across to take her hand. "Amy, I'm going to say something, and I want you to let me finish before you reply." She took a breath and nodded. Her eyes are such beautiful shade of green.

He spoked slowly, very precisely. "While it is true that I love you and I don't want you to leave me, I also don't want you to put your career on hold for me. If you want the job at Berkley, you should take it. It will be hard for us, but I am confident we could make it work. I missed you while I was in Texas, but we made it work. Besides, you know I like things to be symmetrical so it we'll need your Nobel Prize to set next to mine."

Amy didn't reply, just kept looking at him. His heart thumped. Did I say it correctly? I'm not sure.

She finally spoke. "Thank you, Sheldon. It's not just you. It's partly you, maybe even mostly you, but everything I know is here. My apartment. My friends. I don't know if I can move away and be alone again. Before I met you and Penny and everyone I didn't have any friends."

He gave her hand a little squeeze. He remembered what his own life was like before he met Leonard. "When do you have to decide?"

"Two weeks. I'm supposed to go up on Friday for an interview and to tour the facility. I was going to cancel."

"You should go. Even if you don't take the job, it's always good to gather data on your competition."

Amy smiled at that. "Will you come with me?"

Sheldon's stomach twisted. It was obvious she wanted him to say yes so badly, but he knew he couldn't. That is a bad idea. "But I can't be on the interview and tour with you."

"I know. We could spend an extra day in San Francisco. Ride in a cable car to watch how it works or something."

"Well, I suppose cable cars are short little trains that ride on the street." Amy was staring at him, and he willed her to look away but she didn't. Could he do this? Was it too much, too soon, too fast? This is almost certainly a bad idea. "330 days, remember?"

She smirked. "I remember, Dr. Cooper."

Just like that, Amy had defeated him yet again. Oh boy, this is definitely a bad idea. He raised an eyebrow at her brash tone. "Very well, Dr. Fowler."

Thank you in advance for your reviews!


Chapter Text

"Okay, Ames, spill it." Penny uncorked the wine and poured two very full glasses. Amy took one, sitting down on the stool in Penny's kitchen.

She and Sheldon had decided that they would divide and conquer. They knew that Leonard and Penny sometimes fed off of each, so this had seemed the least risky way to have these conversations. But now Amy felt less courageous without Sheldon by her side. She was dying to know what conversation was being had across the hallway.

"Nothing much, really."

"No. You don't get off that easy. Details."

"Well, we took the bus to my apartment -"

"How'd you get in?"

"I gave Sheldon a key for emergencies several months ago."

Penny raised her eyebrows. "Go on."

"We talked some -"


Amy sighed. "Are you going to interrupt me every time I speak?"

"Yes. Because you don't give enough details."

"Fine. We talked about the party and our costumes and -"

"What did Sheldon say to you on the dance floor?" Penny practically screamed.

Amy jumped.

"Sorry, Ames." Penny came and sat next to her, and they turned to face each other. "It's just that we've dying all night to know. We knew you had a fight and he seemed so angry when he came and got you and then you started crying. Then he kissed you and you both ran out like bats out of hell. Obviously this story started before the bus ride."

"He . . . he . . ." They had agreed to leave details out when they told Penny and Leonard, but did this count? She wasn't sure. "He told me he loves me."

"Holy crap on a cracker!" Penny reached over and hugged her awkwardly because of the angle they were sitting. "Amy, that's wonderful. Did you finally tell him you loved him?"

"Yes. Wait! How did you know I loved him?"

Penny waved her hand. "Sweetie, we've all known for years. Raj swears he knew it that day you met in the coffee shop."

"Oh." She paused, and Penny made the 'carry on' gesture with her hand. "So then I told him I wanted to leave and he said the bus was coming. When we got to my apartment he told me he loved me again, and he made me promise I wouldn't make him say it unless were alone."

"Typical," Penny muttered.

Amy choose to ignore it. She liked that their love was special and private between them. "Then I made tea, and we really did talk about our costumes and the party. Then we . . . made out."

"The good part!" Penny exclaimed. Amy shoot her a look of disdain.

"Then he asked if I wanted him to sleep with me -" Penny choked on her wine, spitting some out. Amy put her hand up "Just in the same bed, Penny. And then we went to bed, and we slept in this morning."

"So no hanky panky in bed?"

"No," Amy sighed. "It was really sweet, actually. We were both so exhausted and he was warm, and it was just comfortable to be that close to him."

Penny got misty eyed at that. "That is sweet. I do know what you mean. It is nice to sleep, just sleep, with someone you love. . ." After trailing off for a minute, she shook her head and took another drink. "Did you guys talk about your job offer?"

"Yes, some. I'm not even sure I want it, but Sheldon thinks I should at least investigate it."

"I think that's a good idea, too. Then at least you'll know all your options. What's the next step?"

"I'm going up Thursday evening before an interview and tour on Friday." Amy took a gulp of her wine. I have to tell her sometime. "Sheldon is going with me."

Another little choke. "Like to San Francisco? To stay the night? In a hotel?"

"Yes. Crazy isn't it? Three nights together in one week."

"Three nights?" Penny was practically squealing.

"We're staying Friday night, too, to do some sightseeing on Saturday."

"Yeah, it's crazy! This is not the Sheldon Cooper I met seven years ago. But in a good way." Penny paused. "Actually, this is perfect. I was going to ask you to find a way to get Sheldon out of our hair on Friday, anyway."


Penny smiled. "I don't believe for a second that you've told me every dirty detail of your night Sheldon. But that's okay. If you have your secrets, I can have mine."

Amy raised her eyebrows. It wasn't like Penny to be secretive. She was certain Penny was the antonym of secretive. However, this was bargain she couldn't afford not to strike. She decided to change the topic slightly. "What do you think the boys are saying over there?"

"If they were normal guys, Sheldon would say 'I told Amy I love her' and Leonard would say 'Cool. Wanna play Halo?' But, knowing our boyfriends, Sheldon's being vague and acting like it's all beneath him, but Leonard has a big goofy grin on his face, loving every minute of it."

"Leonard would love this?"

"Absolutely." Penny leaned in conspiratorially. "Leonard says he's a huge Shamy shipper."

Amy knew what Shamy was, of course, Sheldon hated the term. "What's a shipper?"

Penny leaned back and shrugged. "Honestly, I have no idea. I thought it was a sciencey thing and you might know. I think it has something to do with the Internet."

"Okay, Sheldon, spill it. You and Amy didn't say a word on the drive over here."

Leonard crossed his arms and stared at him, furrowing his bushy eyebrows.

"Can't I even put my keys in the bowl first?"


"Fine." Sheldon crossed his own arms and looked back. "I-told-Amy-I-love-her-and-we-slept-in-her-bed-but-there-was-no-coitus-and-I'm-going-to-visit-San-Francisco-with-her-on-Thursday."

He'd never seen Leonard's eyebrows move so much in the five seconds it took him to blurt it out. Fascinating, really. Then Leonard face's transformed into a large smile. I wonder if he knows that always makes him look like a golden retriever with a head injury? 

"Sheldon Cooper, I never thought I'd see the day you grew up." Then Leonard chuckled, that chuckle he gave when he thought he understood Sheldon. Which is ridiculous. Leonard continued, "So, a romantic weekend getaway, huh?"

"That's absurd. It's a professional trip. She's touring Berkley. I'm merely going along for moral and professional support. Plus we're taking the train."

Another chuckle. "Sure, whatever you need to tell yourself. San Francisco is a very romantic city. Watch out, you just might find coitus there."

Sheldon rolled his eyes. "Don't be ludicrous. There will be no coitus for another 330 days, give or take six days."

Leonard's bushy eyebrows shoot up again. A part of Sheldon relished the shock he'd given. Then Leonard laughed, laughed!, not just chuckled.

"Okay, whatever you say. Wanna play Halo?"

Honestly, why are we Shamy shippers forever sending them away on trips? Thank you in advance for your reviews!

Chapter Text

Sheldon sat on the bed, lost in the latest issue of The Flash. Sadly, it was the last page. He closed the comic book with a melancholy sigh. Always too short. Good timing, though, Amy should be here any minute.

At the thought of Amy, he felt a warm little glow. As Thursday had approached, he had become very nervous. An impromptu sleepover because he was so relieved and happy and tired was one thing. A planned trip was something else all together. Of course, his friends had no mercy; there had simply been no logical way to keep it from them. Leonard was mostly silent on the topic at home (other than that smile), but he did laugh at Howard and Raj's jokes. Their jabs had kept Sheldon awake on Wednesday night. What if Amy did wear some sort of little nightgown, not her usual flannel? What if she wore, he swallowed hard, lingerie?

However, Amy, clever little Amy, had thought of these scary things. She had requested a room with two beds. They'd sat on one bed together, watching TV and holding hands, but when it was time to sleep, she hadn't even suggested they sleep in the same bed. She wore her usual flannel nightgown. They had kissed good night, but it was gentle and chaste. And today, she informed him of where the closest comic book store was. He knew this, of course, he had researched it himself; but he didn't tell her that because he was touched by her thoughtfulness.

He heard her key card in the door and Amy entered. He sat up straighter. She looked especially beautiful. She had gone shopping with Bernadette, and her new blouse was the exact shade of green as her eyes. "Hello, Amy."

"Hello, Sheldon." She came and sat on the bed across from him.

He turned to face her, swinging his legs over. His heart was pounding. I want her to love this job and hate this job at the same time. Love is so confusing. "Well?"

"It was nice. I think they liked me." His heart sank. "But I'm not sure. It was all so . . . different." His heart lifted until he noticed she looked sad.

"Are you sad?" She nodded. "Why? Are you frightened to leave everyone behind?" She nodded again. He got up and moved over to sit next to her, taking her hand. "Amy, I think you are very brave."

"You do?" She looked surprised.

"Yes. Even though I know logically that you should consider this, I don't think I could ever consider leaving. Maybe if you were coming with me, but never alone. You do so many brave things I could never do, like drive a car. You even live alone, and I don't know if I could do that."

She squeezed his hand. "Thank you. But I don't think I'm brave. On the way here, I decided I can't do it."

"Are you sure? Think about it, you have another week." He had that bittersweet feeling again.

"I will." They sat there, silently, holding hands, each lost in their own thoughts. He saw a tiny tear tracing its way down her cheek.

Sheldon desperately wanted to cheer her up. Sometimes Amy played her harp when she was sad, but of course her harp wasn't here. Sometimes she drank wine, but he didn't like drunk Amy. He racked his memory for solutions. He remembered that females typically tried to bury their sorrows in ice cream and chocolate. He supposed he could go find a vending machine with chocolate to bring it back to her, but he would have to leave her. Then a memory of his sightseeing research came back to him.

"Come on, Amy, let's go."


"Ghirardelli Square."

He wasn't a neurobiologist like Amy, but Sheldon had never truly believed that chocolate released endorphins that interacted with the opiate centers of one's brain. It had always sound like pseudo-science poppycock to him. Oddly, though, two giant sundaes later and a walk in the brisk wind along the warf had seemed to cheer them both up.

He mentioned this to Amy, and he listened while she explained it on the cab ride back to their hotel. I love it when she talks about her work like this. She's the only one who has ever made biology truly interesting to me. She was just finishing her monologue when they returned to the room.

"Thank you, Amy. That was fascinating."

"Thank you for the unconventional dinner. It was just what I needed." She took off her blazer and hung it up in the closet.

The change in her appearance was mesmerizing. Now she was only covered by that beautiful green blouse, and he liked it. "I love you."

She turned to look at him, a little surprised but mostly pleased. "I love you, too."

He hadn't said it since Sunday. No because he didn't mean it anymore, but because there never seemed to be a good time. He supposed, after a while, it would become casual and easy for him to say, like when Leonard yelled it after Penny. But he didn't want that yet. It still felt too important to him.

He reached for her, and she came to him. He leaned down to kiss her. They hadn't done this all week, either, not this way. He sank down into her mouth, surprised yet again at how good this felt, thrilled at how eagerly she returned his kisses. Quickly he was awash in desire. Nothing in his entire life compared with the elation of kissing Amy like this, and it still hadn't faded even after almost two months of these kisses. This was better than chocolate and walks and almost better than listening to Amy talk about science.

He broke the kiss and looked down at her, stroking her cheek. He reached for her hand on his arm and led her to her bed.

"Sheldon, we don't have to, I didn't ask you to come for that."

"Shhh," he whispered, sitting down with her. He reached for her and buried his face in her neck, kissing all that he could reach, pushing her shirt collar out of the way to reach that little divot he dreamed about. Amy rewarded him with one of those shudders that drove him wild. He reached back for her mouth with force and ran his hands through her hair.

He pulled back. I love the sound of her breathing after we kiss, like there isn't enough oxygen in the room. "Dr. Fowler, as I recall - and you know I'm never wrong about this - I tried to give you something, but then we got too distracted to enjoy it."

He took a deep breath and quickly lifted both of his shirts off in one move. Cold air struck him, as he carefully folded the shirts and sat them next to him, not looking up, wondering what Amy was thinking. He steeled himself and looked at her face. I've pleased her. 

Amy raised her hand and he nodded to her. She placed her had over his heart, where she had last week, smiling up at him. My heartbeat. Slowly, she started to trace her fingertips over his chest and stomach. Even in the midst of the searing physical sensations, he found it charming and calming that she was being so precise and orderly in her path. She's memorizing me. He closed his eyes so that he could concentrate on the sensations. It was his turn to shudder when her fingertips grazed his nipples. He knew where she was moving next, and he found his skin there tingling in anticipation of her touch. Too soon, her hand came to rest on his heart again.

He opened his eyes and smiled. He pulled her closer and kissed her again. Deep and warm but gentle. As he kissed her with more passion, he placed his hand over her heart, feeling it beating beneath his hand. He was aware, somewhere, that he was also feeling the edge of her bra and the mound of flesh it contained. He enjoyed the speedy rhythm of her heartbeat for a moment and then moved his hand up to the V in her blouse.

"Amy, may I . . ." She nodded into another kiss. He struggled with the top button (Who knew a woman's shirt is so hard to get off?), but he got the hang of it by the third. He released the rest of the buttons in rapid succession. He reached up for the shoulders, but stopped to give Amy a look. She nodded. Using both hands now, he pulled it off her shoulders and down her arms. Amy shook her wrists and hands free.

Sheldon's breath caught in his throat. All he could see, all he knew, was Amy's beautiful torso. Seeing it all like this, completely exposed to him, was different from before. Her bra was different, it was plain white this time, but no less beautiful to him. Amy took his hand and placed it back on her heart. This time, he was violently aware of her breast there. He hadn't touched here last week, he had stayed safely below the band of bra. He forced himself to look up at as he moved his hand along the top edge of her breasts. Then Amy closed her eyes and shuddered.

Pulling her in to kiss her neck and collarbones, his hands started moved in a frenzy. He wanted to slow down, he wanted to force himself to savor every millimeter of her flesh, but he also couldn't stop himself. I need to stop. I don't want to stop. He slipped his thumb into her bra and felt her nipple harden beneath his touch. Amy moaned. Oh boy. The moan frightened him and excited him even more at the same time. Oh, Albert Einstein, I need to stop. But he didn't. He was sucking on her earlobe and before he knew what he was doing, he was pulling at the center of her bra.

Amy giggled. Sheldon broke away from her, startled. "It's in the back." What's in the back? Why is she giggling? Oh, the bra clasp! This one is different! I need tell her I need to -

Before he could speak, Amy had reached behind her in some sort of contortionist move and removed her bra.

Sheldon thought he was having a stroke. Certainly he was about to pass out. His vision was fading on the edges, and he stopped breathing. All the medical textbooks and his undergrad anatomy class and that book Leonard had given him did not prepare him for this moment. What do I do? How do I touch them? Why are her breasts so beautiful? He didn't realize he was staring, frozen solid, until Amy touched his arm.

"Sheldon? Are you okay? Look up at me." He forced his eyes up to hers. "Breathe through it. We'll do it together." Her hand had moved down to his. She took a deep breath in through her nose and out through her mouth. He joined her on the second breath. Several breaths in, Sheldon felt better. How strange this is! Both us sitting here half-naked doing Kulinar. I wonder if this is how Vulcans do it.

The unexpected thought made him smile, and Amy smiled back at him. He was able to speak. "Amy, I think maybe . . . purely from the standpoint of physics . . . this might be easier if we . . . it's just that this is a very . . . um . . . viewpoint and maybe . . ."

He reached for shoulders and gently pulled her down on the bed beside him, keeping his eyes on her face the whole time. Her eyes looked nervous, but she didn't fight it. Now his head was laying very close to hers, he was able to look directly into her eyes. It was better, not so overwhelming. She smiled again.

Laying one hand on her waist, he curled the other one under his head. Slowly, he moved his hand up from her waist. He reached the hill of flesh and barely touched it with one fingertip. Amy let out a slow breath. "Is this okay?" She nodded, which made a rustling noise against the bed. And so he gently, slowly memorized her chest with just the tips of his fingers the way she had memorized his. He never looked away from her face, and she keep watching him, only closing her eyes occasionally when a little moan escaped. He brought his hand back to her waist.

"Amy, you are so beautiful." She blushed deeply at that, and he enjoyed the sight of her skin, all of it, turning such a rosy pink. "But I really need to take a shower now."

Coming out of the bathroom in his pajamas, Sheldon saw Amy was already in bed, sitting up. She looked up at him, and pulled the blankets down next to her. He paused only for a second before crawling in next to her. The other bed felt like it was on another continent tonight, and he couldn't bear to be that far away from her.

He was pleased to see she was wearing her sensible nightgown. I could not take that twice in one night. As she took her glasses off, he turned off the lamp and slipped down between the sheets. He was briefly addled by Amy's little body curling up against his, but he welcomed her head on his chest. "No ideas, Dr. Fowler."

"Of course not, Dr. Cooper. We still have 325 days to go." He heard the smirk in her voice.

Because it was so dark, he allowed himself to smile back. "Quite." I may have to revise my calculations.

Sheldon had never cared for horticulture, but he had to admit the Japanese Tea Garden was very orderly and that was pleasing. He was just about to turn and point out the precision of a certain plant when he heard both the Darth Vader theme and Sweet Caroline at the same time. Their phones were ringing in unison. They looked at each other in alarm.

"Leonard," Sheldon murmured after reaching into his pocket.

"Penny," Amy replied.

By silent mutual consent, they stepped slightly apart to take the calls. "Leonard?"

"Sheldon, sorry to bother you on your big weekend but I have big news of my own! Penny and I got engaged -" right then, Sheldon heard Amy squeal into her phone "- and I don't remember or really care about the protocols of The Roommate Agreement, but I wanted you to know and I wanted to tell you I'll be moving out sometime soon. I -"

Leonard was still talking manically, something about flowers and candles and Penny one knee, but Sheldon stopped listening. The floor had just dropped out of his world.

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Chapter Text

Sheldon was uncharacteristically quiet. He was holding her hand between them, but he was turned to look out the window at the ocean as it passed. Amy didn't think he was really watching the ocean.

She had been debating for a couple of hours now whether to ask him about it. He must be upset by Leonard and Penny's engagement, as he had become withdrawn after their phone calls. It was as though he was an automaton packing up at the hotel and getting to the train. She had slipped her hand into his in hopes of reassuring him or, at least, having him glare at her and remind her they were public; but he'd just taken it without a comment. The lack of glare was worrying her.


"Mmmmm," he didn't turn to look at her.

"Are you upset about Leonard and Penny getting engaged?"

"No." He still didn't turn, but at least he hadn't said yes. "Most traditional pair bonded couples eventually marry. It's to be expected."

For a second Amy was glad he wasn't looking at her so he didn't see her face. Very interesting. "Are you sad? Because Leonard will move out at some point?"

Then he did turn to look at her. "Amy, are you trying to force me talk about my feelings in public?"

Amy was relieved at his irritation. Sheldon was the only man on Earth for whom irritation was good sign. "Yes. No one else in this train car is paying attention to us."

He sighed. He sighed a lot, Amy knew, and she was learning his sighs. They were mostly forced and fake, a way to express his emotions without talking about them. "I really don't want to talk about this here."

She thought perhaps she shouldn't push him. She knew how much he hated this. But she also knew he would probably feel better afterwards. "Then don't. I just thought it would help."

Sheldon didn't answer right away. He seemed to be studying her face. Then he turned back to look at the passengers behind them, both oblivious between their ear buds. He took a deep breath in.

"You will be the death of me someday, woman." Another sigh. "Very well. Yes, I am worried about Leonard moving out. I don't like change, you know that. Now I'll have to find and break in a new roommate. I do not relish the task. You didn't know Leonard ten years ago, but he was almost untrainable. The first two years were excoriating. The amount of bad habits and annoying tendencies I had to break him of almost killed me."

After biting her tongue to keep from smiling, Amy said, "I didn't say worried, I said sad. You know that."

Sheldon sighed, deeper this time. "I don't think a man of my intelligence should be sad."

"Why not? Intelligence and emotions often have nothing to do with each other."

"Yes." He paused. "Amy, did you ever think I would allow my emotions to rule me like they have lately?"

So this is what is really worrying him, even more than Leonard moving out. "I don't know. Honestly, I didn't think about your emotions when we first met, when we just Skyped. I was so happy to have found a friend, an intellectual equal. We were so much alike."

His eyes widen slightly. "Do you not think we're still alike?"

Amy shrugged. "It's hard to explain. Yes, we are still intellectual equals. We still share a passion for science. Maybe it's just that we have both changed since then."

"Changed how?"

She smiled to reassure him. "For the better. As we've gotten to know each other we have learned from each other, both intellectually and emotionally; I think we both can agree that any increase in knowledge is satisfying." It was her turn to pause, and her smile gradually turned into a frown. "I'm sorry, I can't think of how to describe it further. As I said, intelligence and emotions often have very little to do with each other."

"See, I'm right. Emotions are frustrating to discuss." He said it with snap but not true anger.

"I never said they weren't frustrating to discuss. It's just that I'm especially frustrated now because I can't think of a good analogy."

"This is why you should have studied physics instead of neurobiology. The analogy you are looking for can clearly be found in binary stars. As they grown closer, they exchange mass. Later, they exchange it back again. Sometimes one is the primary star, sometimes it is the companion star, but they are always a pair of stars in orbit. Locked together until they go supernova. Perhaps that is also a good way to describe us."

As he finished, she saw his look changed to one of surprise and understanding. Then he looked at her with so much love that she thought she might burst. It reminded her, with a thrill, of another look he gave her on another train ride, so many months ago. It was, without a doubt, the most romantic thing he had ever said to her.

"I like that very much," she whispered.

"Good," he whispered back.

He held her eyes with his. She didn't want to look away or even to blink. She wanted him to look at her like that forever. But then the moment slipped away, and Sheldon looked down.

Amy remembered his original question again. "Sheldon, are you worried about your emotions? Do you think they are ruling you?"

He nodded.

Her heart ached. She loved him so much, and now she knew he loved her. This love had brought them joy, but there was still a lot of fear.

She spoke, "I know at times you do feel like your emotions are ruling you. I feel that way sometimes, too. This is new and overwhelming for both of us. But, when I step back to think about it, I don't think your emotions are ruling you."

"You don't?" He looked up, surprised.

"No. Sheldon, you're the most compartmentalized person I've ever met. You have a work compartment. A friend compartment. A video game compartment. And, I think, an Amy compartment."

He cocked his head. "You may be right." Another sigh. "Sometimes, though, it seems like the Amy compartment is trying to break free."

Amy smiled and blushed at that. "Good. I'm glad you're noticing."

Sheldon raised a single eyebrow at that, and Amy felt her stomach quake. I'd better realign this conversation or I'll embarrass both of us. "Back to the most pressing matter. You don't have to rush into a new roommate. You could try to live alone first."

He shifted slightly in his chair toward her. "Do you remember our conversation last night, about being afraid and being brave? As I told you, despite my superior intellect, I am not a brave person. I just don't know if I could do that."

Amy squeezed his hand. "Do you remember telling me you think I'm brave? Well, I think you are brave also and just don't realize it. You started college at age eleven. You moved to California for your work, leaving your family. Despite the . . . challenge, you put forth the effort to be Leonard's roommate and friend. You ride the public bus system. You are never afraid to be exactly who you are, and it's one of the things I love about you. No, you're not a superhero, but who is? No one."

Sheldon laced his fingers through hers, but he kept watching her intently. She couldn't tell what he was thinking.

She continued, "You were brave enough to go on a blind date and buy an extremely shy and socially backward neurobiologist tepid water. And you were brave enough to give that neurobiologist a chance to become your friend and break out of her shell. You were brave enough to introduce her to all your friends and show her a life she never thought she would have. And . . ." Amy heard her voice break. I shouldn't be saying this, this isn't supposed to me about me. ". . . you are brave enough to love her."

He watched her a moment, his blue eyes so strong and piercing. She thought she might cry if he kept looking at her like that. Finally he said (train voice!), "Maybe we make each other braver. Will you help me do this?"

She nodded.

He smiled at her. "I wish we were alone."

"Me too," she smiled back.

He let go of her hand then and straightened in his seat. The spell was broken. "It's the beginning of November, Dr. Fowler, and you still haven't given me my reading assignment. I thought we agreed to one piece of pointless fiction every other month."


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Chapter Text

It had all happened too fast. One Saturday there was the phone call from Leonard, and the next Saturday he was leaving. Of course, it was all logical. Leonard was only moving across the hall. Most of the furniture in the apartment was Sheldon's anyway. But it was still too fast.

Sheldon stood in the doorway of Leonard's now empty bedroom appalled at the dust bunnies. He also felt sad and . . . lost. The room looked abandoned, a couple of data cords lying lifeless on the floor. He was glad for a moment of quiet now that everyone had moved on to Penny's - no, Penny and Leonard's - for pizza.

He heard Leonard's shuffling walk approaching. He came and leaned against the door frame next to Sheldon.

"How are you?" Leonard asked.

"Other than disgusted by how much a hazardous materials suit will cost me to clean this mess, I'm just fine." Sheldon crossed his arms but didn't look over at Leonard.

He heard Leonard chuckle. I hate it when he chuckles like he knows what I'm thinking. "So, I noticed you haven't posted an ad for new roommate."

"No. I'm not sure I have the willpower to break another one in. You almost killed me. Besides, you are just moving across the hallway. You're still obligated to drive me to work, you know. I have a Neighbor Agreement for you to sign."

"What will you do with the room, then?"

"After I fumigate it, I might use it for an office. Maybe I'll move my desk and whiteboard in here."

"Let me know when, and I'll help you move the desk."

"I'll be sure to give you twenty-four hours notice so you can double up on your inhaler use."

They stood in silence a minute, both looking into the empty room.

Leonard took a deep breath. Here we go. "Don't you think you might get lonely? It might do you good to have some . . . company."

Sheldon snorted and turn to glare at him. "Don't you start, too! I see I was a fool to believe your silence when Raj and Howard were teasing me was a sign of solidarity."

Leonard threw up his hands. "No, no, I was being supportive. I am being supportive. I just think you'll miss having someone around. Someone like . . . your intellectual equal."

Giving an even louder snort followed by an exasperated sigh and eye roll, Sheldon looked back at the room. He refused to answer.

"Okay, okay, that came out wrong. I do think you'll miss having someone around. I am proud of you that you're going to try living alone." Why does he sometimes insist on talking to me like he is my father? Leonard continued"But I also understand how hard it can be to make a huge decision like living with your girlfriend. Look at me, it took me seven years and an engagement to move in with Penny. Take your time."

Sheldon didn't answer this time, but not because he was refusing to do so. His heart was pounding in his chest. Leonard thinks I will live with Amy someday. Sheldon was able to ignore the jabs from the other guys, but this heartfelt statement from Leonard made him squirm inside. Could he ever live with Amy someday? He'd thought about it before, even years ago when she asked if she could move in. There was no way that was happening then. But now so much had changed between them.

"Just do me a favor. Don't post for a roommate until you're sure. It's so much fun here you may never get the new roommate to leave, and then how will you ever get Amy to live with you?" Leonard chuckled again and left.

He was sitting in the laundry room playing Ticket to Ride on his iPad when he heard a knock at the door.

"It's a public laundry room. You don't have to knock," he yelled and rolled his eyes.

The door opened, and Amy entered. "Hello, Sheldon."

"Oh, I didn't know it was you. You know you don't have to knock." I'm glad she's here.

She came to sit on the table beside him. "I thought since you wanted to alone, I'd give you the chance to turn me away."

Does Amy think I would ever turn her away? "Why do you think I want to be alone?"

"Because you've never came to Leonard and Penny's for pizza. Also, this is an hour earlier than you normally start laundry."

She knows me too well. "I saw what it a mess it was earlier and disorder ruins my appetite."

A pause fell between them. He was relieved that Amy was ignoring his little white lie.

"Did you bring your laundry?" Sheldon asked.

"Some of it. I wasn't sure if we'd have Laundry Night tonight."

"It's Saturday night. We always do laundry together on Saturday nights. Should I help you get it from your car?"

"In a minute." Amy seemed content to sit there with him. She spoke again, "Sheldon, would you like me to stay the night so you won't be alone?"

He felt his heart leap. Yes. It had been a week, and each of those seven nights had been lonely. But then he remembered what he was trying to do. "No. I mean, yes. But no. If I'm going to try to live alone, I have to start sometime."

Amy nodded and gave him a small smile. "Of course."

Another long pause. I feel better with Amy just sitting here. He thought back to their conversation on the train last week, when he told her much more than he had intended. She had also exposed a part of herself to him. They exchanged fears and became stronger for it. Binary stars. "Amy?"


"Maybe next week, after Laundry Night, you could sleep over?" Really, what has happened to my voice in the past nine months?

A bigger, warmer smile from Amy. I've pleased her. I love her so much. She said, "I'd like that."


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Chapter Text

They had discussed it and planned it with meticulous precision so that nothing would go wrong.

Would they do it on the sofa or in the bedroom? In the bedroom. Would they do laundry at the usual time or earlier? The usual. Would they go to bed at ten or try to be done and asleep by ten? A compromise, go to bed a little early at 9:45 and allow themselves to stay up later. Should they find a way to get Leonard and Penny out of the building or should Sheldon change the lock? Neither, but they experimented with all the chairs in the apartment to determine which one was perfect height to fit under the doorknob of the front door. What, exactly, was on the itinerary? All the San Francisco activities, nothing more. Would they do it setting up or laying down? Laying down, but nothing below the waist could touch. Would there be any kissing prior to the bedroom? A chaste kiss hello and hand holding, but nothing else. It was too hard to stop. What was the optimal room temperature? Sixty-six degrees, and Sheldon would calculate what time the thermostat needed adjusted to obtain it. Would they set the alarm or sleep in? Sleep in for a while, but the alarm would be set at nine so the day wasn't be lost. Would they enter the bedroom in their clothes or their nightwear? Their nightwear. Changing first in the bathroom would allow them to void their bladders and brush their teeth.

Separately, Amy planned and packed with care. She brought two changes of nightwear just in case there was some sort of wardrobe malfunction. She took a shower and spent longer on her hair than normal before leaving.

When Amy emerged from the bathroom in her robe to knock gently on Sheldon's bedroom door, she was surprised by pitch blackness. All the lights were off. Fortunately, his room was immediately next door. So when he told her to come in, she flipped the light switch inside the door.

"What are you doing?" he cried and squinted from the bed, where he was already sitting with his legs under the covers.

"Turning on the lights."

"But I want it dark."

"I want to see. I don't want to trip on my way to bed."

"Amy, you know I maintain strict standards of cleanliness. There is nothing to trip you between the doorway and the bed."

"I also want to see your face. And it wasn't dark the last two times we did this."

"As I recall, I almost passed out at the sight of you."

"But you didn't. And you won't."

A pause, an impediment. Maybe they had not planned this as well as they thought.

Amy spoke first. "How about we leave the room light off but turn on the hallway light?"


She did that then, before returning to the bedroom. She walked over to her side of the bed and removed her glasses and robe.

"What are you wearing?"


"I can see your legs."

"Did you doubt I had them?"

"Where is your nightgown?"

"I didn't bring one." She was still standing by the bed.

"Why not?"

"Because pajamas very clearly have a top and bottom that can be removed independently."

Another pause, another impediment. No, they had not planned this out as well as they thought at all.

"It is hard to dispute your logic. Carry on."

She lifted the covers and sat next to him, their backs resting against the headboard. She turned to look at him, and he was watching her. She leaned in and his lips met hers. It was, quite possibly, the worst kiss ever. She pulled back.

"I think we're at the wrong angle, the approach vector is wrong. Maybe we should face each other," Sheldon said.

"Yes, let's try that."

But then it was awkward, physically ungainly, to kiss each other facing other while sitting on a bed under covers. They were too far apart, and there was nowhere to put their legs. It was the second worst kiss ever.

"I think it's because we said we'd do this lying down," Amy said.

"Agreed. That's why we planned this."

So they both lay down, facing each other but not touching. Amy's arm felt pinned beneath her. She tried to raise it up under her head, like Sheldon had in San Francisco, but she would have struck his chin with her elbow if he hadn't jumped away in time.


They leaned toward each other again, and Sheldon put his hand on her arm. He was somehow too close for her to put her hand on his chest correctly, and her wrist was smashed. It was the third worst kiss ever.

"Sheldon, I'm not comfortable."

"Me neither."

They rolled onto their backs. Amy reached for his hand, but it wasn't there. She glanced over to see his hands were both resting on his chest.

Another pause. Another impediment. Neither of them spoke.

Amy felt on the verge of tears. What had gone wrong? They'd down this twice (or at least one and a half times, I'm not sure what counts), and both times it was strange and new but beautiful and loving. Tonight it felt cold and stilted. They weren't arguing, even their words lacked passion. She forced herself to speak. "What was different last time?"

"Many things were different. Geography, of course. We had walked first. It was a hotel room. We ate ice cream for dinner. I was wearing different pajamas. But . . ." He trailed off.

"But what?"

"Somehow I don't know either. It's a very disconcerting feeling." He sounded distant.

"Maybe we should just sleep?"

"Yes, I think you're right. Good night, Amy." He rolled over, facing away from her. He didn't try to hold her.

"Good night, Sheldon." He didn't try to hold me. He didn't tell me he loved me. She rolled away from him then, too, and allowed a tear to silently fall in the dim light from the hallway.

As bad as that was, the morning was worse.

They had both slept poorly, Amy thought. She knew she did. She kept waking up cold because Sheldon was stealing the blankets. She had a nightmare. She woke up to Sheldon kicking her in his sleep. She wondered if he was having a nightmare. She woke up once when he got out of bed to turn off the hallway light. However, the darkness didn't help her sleep.

She was awake, facing away from him, when she heard him get out of bed again with a loud sigh. She didn't say anything. She waited and listened, and gave him time to use the bathroom and eat breakfast. When she heard him turn on the television, she got up and dressed. It was only five o'clock.

He looked up at her from his spot when she walked in the living room, her bag in her hand. His hair was a mess, and there were dark circles under his eyes.

"Amy, you're dressed," he said.

He doesn't even sound surprised. "I'm leaving."

"Aren't you going to eat breakfast?"

"No, I'm not hungry. I'm going to go home and go back to bed there and try to get some sleep."

He nodded. "Okay. Text me when you get home safely."

He didn't get up, he didn't walk her to the door, didn't help her move the chair, he didn't try to touch her, and he still didn't tell her that he loved her.

Three sobbing cries, two lengthy naps, and fifteen hours later, Amy felt slightly better physically but not emotionally.

She thought about calling Penny or Bernadette but quickly decided against it. She would have to tell them too many details. Instead, she put on her night gown early, took a pint of ice cream from the freezer, and sat down to watch some television.

Mmmmm, this chocolate ice cream is so good. That reminded her of Sheldon, as so many things did these days, and how he had eagerly demanded she explain the science of chocolate-induced endorphins to him. She tried to remember every detail of that weekend, cursing Sheldon his eidetic memory. Sheldon had been really, truly wonderful, the boyfriend she had wanted for long. They had a long overdue deep conversation. Surely there is a clue in there, somewhere, to this strange place we find ourselves.

She had come back to the hotel room, excited but mostly frightened. Her fears saddened her, and Sheldon had understood and been kind. He had surprised her by taking her -

Amy sat up straighter on the couch. He surprised me. First, by taking her out for ice cream, and again in the hotel room by reaching for her almost immediately after they arrived. It wasn't planned at all.

In rapid succession, she sat turned off the television, put the ice cream away, grabbed her still packed bag, threw a trench coat over her nightgown, and raced out the door.

He looked bewildered to see her.

"Amy. Did we have plans?"

"No. And that's the point."

He moved aside so she could enter. She saw him raise his eyebrows when he saw her bag. He shut the door.

"I don't follow."

"Sheldon, do you love me?"

First shock, and then a furrowed brow. He took a step toward her, and reached out for her hand. She was relieved to feel his was trembling. "Yes, of course I love you. How could you doubt it? It's not every four years I work up the courage to say that to someone."

Her heart swelled. After a pause, he asked, "Is this about last night? It was awful, I know. But I don't know why. I've been thinking about it all day."

She didn't reply with words. Instead, she grabbed the side of his head and pulled him down to her and kissed him. Long and hard and wet and hungry. After a brief pause, he returned her every motion and wish.

Finally she parted from him. "I love you, too. I know why it was awful."


"Because we thought too much about it."

"Amy, it is not possible to think about anything too much."

"Sheldon, listen to me. Will you allow a little experiment tonight, right now?"

He raised his eyebrows. "What type of experiment?"

"Let's just say I'm wearing a nightgown under this coat." She practically ripped the coat off and let it fall to the floor.

"What are we doing? And are you not hanging that up?"

"Dr. Cooper, I think you would call it a reboot." She grabbed his arm and pulled him toward his bedroom.

It was that night that Sheldon didn't need a single Kulinar breath to determine that Amy's breast was the exact fit for his hand.

Chapter Text

Sheldon stood in the corner of the dining room wishing he was, well, anywhere else. He could be in his apartment, enjoying the beginning of Christmas break with his friends. They had even rewritten The Twelve Days of Christmas for the twelve consecutive days without work, and today was the kickoff: A Doctor in a Tardis. It was especially perfect as the girls had all sorts of wedding things to do and wouldn't be around much. Weddings are so ridiculous. I'm so glad Amy is too intelligent for that nonsense.

He shook his head and brought his mind back to the present. He was missing a glorious Doctor Who marathon because his mother has insisted that he come to Texas. To his nephew's birthday party of all things, even though, as a mere infant, the child had no idea who his Uncle Shelly was. Of course she had tried to bundle in a heartwarming early family Christmas, as though that was supposed to convince him. And so Sheldon found himself on the Saturday before Christmas watching grown woman squealing at high pitch frequencies while they allowed both the child and the dining room floor to become a disaster zone. At least I get to leave on Monday.

His phone chirped. Amy! Finally, someone who wasn't into a drooling idiot. Or a baby.

A: How is the party?

S: Unbearable.

A: That bad?

S: I beginning to think I was adopted. No one in this room is intelligent enough to have given me my DNA.

A: So no picture of you in a party hat with cake smashed on your face holding a screaming toddler?

S: Don't be preposterous.

A: :-)

S: You know I have nothing but disdain for emoticons.

A: You can punish me when you get home. ;-)

S: Dr. Fowler.

Sheldon was enjoying this little conversation. Just then he heard his mother laugh, and he looked up just in time to see her boyfriend put his arms around her. It still felt strange to him, but he was happy she was happy. Howard and Amy were right all those months ago. Of course, Amy is always right.

S: I miss you.

A: I miss you, too.

"Shelly, put that thing away. It's rude to play with your phone at a party!" his mother admonished him.

"I'm not playing. I'm having a stimulating conversation with my intellectual equal, which is no where to be found in this room."

"Don't sass me or I'll send you to your room. Now put the phone away."

Sheldon sighed bitterly.

S: Sorry, I have to go or I won't be allowed supper.

A: Only 44.6 more hours.

He smiled at that. S: Indeed.

"I love you. Goodnight."

After the call ended, Sheldon frowned. He rarely stayed up past his bedtime, but he had been very tempted tonight. Amy could have talked to me another two hours before her bedtime. But he had an early flight the next morning, and he needed his sleep. Before he sat his phone down, he opened his photos.

He never used to take photos. With his eidetic memory, he had never found much use for them. However, there were five on his phone. One was the photo of Amy he used for a screen saver. For the longest time, it was the only photo he ever had. Number two was a still shot from the outtakes of a certain Fun with Flags video, the one in which Amy had kissed him on the tip of his nose. He liked looking at the photo because it was from a different vantage point than his memory. He could see his own raised eyebrows, and Amy's lips curled up on the edges, as though she were kissing and smiling at the same time.

The third photo he had taken just a few weeks ago, on their second Sleepover Night at his apartment, the night he had gripped her posterior beneath his hand and finally released two years worth of pent-up longing for it. He had gotten up first and taken a picture of her sleeping. Her hair was tangled and hanging over part of her face, and her mouth was open a little. It somehow was the most beautiful he had ever seen her.

The fourth and fifth photos were a pair. He had taken the fourth from the hallway, zoomed in on Amy sitting at the island, a book open before her, and her hand around a mug. She looked so calm and peaceful. The fifth photo was her smile, large and surprised, after she heard the click of the camera. No anger or real shock, just love and happiness that her boyfriend had taken her picture to remember her by. I pleased her.

Scrolling through the pictures again, Sheldon felt a mixture of love and loneliness. Bittersweet.

It had been six weeks now of living alone. He was proud of himself. He didn't need a roommate. He was an adult, and he was living an adult life. Everyone still came to his apartment for Halo and retro video games and Friday night Thai food. Amy came for laundry night and every third Thursday night and there was the two Sleepover Nights and varies other planned times. Of course, sometimes he was at Amy's for dinner or another Sleepover Night. The rest of the time was quiet, and that quietness suited him. He was able to work in peace. He never found his sleep or his concentration disturbed. No one else ate the last of the cereal. He watched what he wanted when he wanted. No one ever threatened his spot. True, he'd never moved anything into the empty bedroom . . .

He scrolled back to the picture of Amy reading in the kitchen. He loved all of his photos of her, but tonight this was the one he wanted. Amy just being Amy. Amy reading, content to be herself in her own little world. Amy sitting in his kitchen, drinking the tea she made herself because she knew his kitchen as well as her own. There was something so sweet and . . . domestic about it.

I miss Amy. I miss her everyday. He had once said, at Howard's wedding, that he was puzzled by the need to share one's life with another human being. That his only happiness was being on his own. It may have been true then. But now a girl reading a book in his kitchen had changed that.

Sighing, he sat his phone on the night stand, and slid under the covers. Now he just had to think of a way to explain it to his mother.

They had agreed to exchange little gifts, only. Because Leonard and Penny had invited them to spend Christmas morning with them, and Amy told him in no uncertain terms they would go and smile and enjoy it and be thankful for the invitation and give gifts. Amy told him this in the voice she used when she would brook no retort from him.

Amy had opened his gift and almost succeeded in hiding her disappointment. "A Kindle gift card. It's perfect! I love to read!"

Sheldon had smiled back. He had seen the disappointed flash in her eyes, but, for once, he was not worried. He had a plan.

After a late lunch of breakfast food, which he found confusing, they had all waved and the girls hugged and they told each other Merry Christmas. It was good be back home again.

"Thank you again for the tee shirts, Amy. I really like them."

"Good. I wasn't sure if Doctor Who was too modern for your taste in clothing."

"I love it." A Doctor Who shirt. Clever Amy. "You are staying this afternoon?"

"If you like."

"I'd like it very much." He took her hand and led her to sofa. He picked up the little wrapped box he'd sat on the end table this morning. "This is for you."

"What's this?" Amy was genuinely surprised.

"A gift."

"I thought you didn't like gifts and the social obligation they imply."

"Amy, I may be socially inept, but even I know a Kindle gift card is not an appropriate gift to give one the woman I love. Well, at least on its own." And there is definitely a string attached to this gift.

She gave him that smile and that look in her eyes he relished so much. I've pleased her. She opened the gift slowly, and it was an agonizing wait for Sheldon.

"A key." She sounded confused. Then she smiled at him. "Is this to your heart?"

"No. Don't make me say some unnecessary romantic poppycock that you already know is true. It's unbecoming."

Her smile turned into a smirk. You vixen, I think you just tricked me.

He took a deep breath. "It's to the apartment."

"Did you change your lock? I already have a key to your apartment."

No, I'm doing this wrong. I thought she would understand immediately, and I wouldn't have to ask. He took another deep breath. "No. It's the same. Amy, I . . . I want you to be my roommate."

Her eyes widened as she sucked in air. "Oh."

Does she not want to be my roommate? Am I wrong? "Amy?"

"Uh, could you define roommate as it applies to this situation?"

Oh! She thought I meant coitus! I think. "You would move in here, and you would have Leonard's old bedroom. You would sleep there. Except on Sleepover Nights, of course." He took her hand and found that it was trembling. "I promise you that I will give you want you want, Amy. I promise. Just not yet."


This question alarmed him. She knew his timeline. But he didn't tell her 277 days. He didn't know why, really. . . Instead, he said, "Soon, I promise. Trust me."

The corners of her mouth twitched at that. "No, I meant when did you want me to move in?"

Oh. Immediately. But he said instead, "You'll need time to pack. And to work out the details of your lease."

She didn't answer, and he thought he might die from the lack of oxygen.

"Amy, please say yes. I know I'm not easy to love or to live with, but I want to see you in my kitchen every morning."

Amy's eyes became watery. "Yes. I'll start packing. I don't think I'll be able to arrange movers until at least the first of January."

Sheldon was pleasantly surprised by that. "So soon?"

"I'd prefer immediately."

Because immediately was not soon enough, he reached for her. Right there in his spot. In the middle of the afternoon. Without locking the door. Later, it would cross his mind. But he didn't move. He was too busy relishing the way Amy's mouth felt on his chest.

Chapter Text

She woke up with a dull headache. Not enough sleep. Why did I insist we go to Howard and Bernadette's for a New Year's Eve party?

Amy turned to look at her sleeping boyfriend. He had been a good sport. He complained bitterly, of course, but once he gotten there he had been mostly well behaved. Which was more than she could say for all the insistent teasing he endured from the boys about their upcoming move. She felt bad now for making him go. She reached out to brush his cheek, and Sheldon surprised her by pulling her in close to him in his sleep.

She took in a deep breath of him. His scent was more pronounced this morning. They had fallen asleep immediately instead of engaging in their usual Sleepover activities, so no cold shower before bed. She liked it. He smelled musky and earthy and manly. She nuzzled her face closer to his neck.

Sheldon surprised her again by stopping her with a kiss on her forehead. But his eyes were still closed. Is he sleep kissing me? That's sweet. Before she had time think more about it, he was quite amorously kissing her ear and then he was sucking on her earlobe. As always, she melted at his touch, and she found her hands working their way under his pajama top.

Suddenly, Sheldon rolled her over on her back while kissing her neck. "Sheldon?"

"Mmmmmm," he murmured into her neck. The humming sensation sent shudders down her spine. He was pushing her nightgown up and up with hands, and kicking the blankets away with his legs. Then his face was on her chest. She felt very naked, lying there with in only her panties, her skin exposed to the air.

What is happening here? Sheldon was comfortable enough to touch her breasts and he'd even gotten quite good at it, but it was always with his hands. And, oh, Sweet Jesus! did he just touch my nipple with his lips?

I have to stop this. He doesn't know what he's doing. I want him to be fully aware of this. "Sheldon? Are you awake?"

"I've never been more awake, Amy." He resumed his wet, sloppy meandering of her bosom.

Okay, good. He knows what he's doing. And, hooooot, does it feel good. She was just about to release herself to the surprise sensations of the moment when she suddenly felt how very awake Sheldon Cooper was.

He seemed oblivious, though, to what exactly the lower half of his body was doing as it started to grind against her. He was too busy ravishing her. He reached down with his hands and gripped her bottom, pulling her even closer. Her entire body pulsed. He was grinding harder and faster against her, and Amy was just about to ask him if he needed to stop, when he suddenly let out a long, low, primal moan between her breasts.

Everything stopped. Neither of them moved.

What should I say? She really didn't think there was a way to ignore what just happened. Finally she gently patted his back. "You go take a shower, and I'll bring some clean clothes to the bathroom for you."

He nodded into her chest and then scrambled out of the bed, running to the bathroom, never making eye contact.

Once she heard the water running, she cracked open the door to the bathroom and sat the clothes on the cabinet by the door. She suspected this would be a very long shower, so she changed the sheets on the bed, too.

She was just spooning the oatmeal into bowls when he came into the kitchen, eyes downcast. He looked so pitiful. "Tea, I presume?"

He nodded and sat down. She sat next to him and they ate in silence. She so desperately wanted to say the right thing but didn't know what it would be.

It was after his last bite that that he finally spoke. "I'm sorry, Amy."

"You have nothing to apologize for."

He started to speak again, but she put her arm on him. "Nothing."

She took a deep breath. "Actually, I owe you an apology. There's something I haven't told you, but, given our activities this morning, you should know."

Sheldon looked at her with both intrigue and terror in his eyes. I wonder what thoughts are running through his brain. She refused to look away, ignoring how embarrassed she felt. "I have an appointment on Monday with my gynecologist." He continued to stare, so she carried on. "I thought perhaps with me living here, it was only logical that we should be prepared. I know we have . . . 270 days until coitus, but I think it's the right thing to do."

"Birth control?" he whispered.

"Yes. Was I wrong to bring this up?"

He shook his head. "No. We should be able to discuss this. I've . . . it has crossed my mind, too." He looked down into his empty bowl. "I should tell you I've revised my calculation."

"I know."

He turned toward her quickly. "You do? How?"

She shrugged. "I thought maybe you had at Christmas. But I knew for sure this morning when you gave me a hickey on my bosom." She took a drink of her tea to hide her smile.

Sheldon rewarded her with a deep scarlet blush. "I suddenly remember I have a little work to do this morning. Could you entertain yourself for an hour?"

Amy was trying to read but she couldn't concentrate with all the racket Sheldon was making at his computer. There was a great deal of shifting and sighing and "oh dears."

"What are you working on, Sheldon? You said you only had a little work to do and you've been over then for three hours. I thought we were going to relax. It's a holiday. Come sit by me. We can watch something."

"I'm trying to rewrite this Agreement, and it's incredibly difficult."

"Agreement?" She closed her Kindle. She was surprised.

"The new Relationship Roommate Agreement. You just sign these things and never realize the amount of time I put into them." He snorted.

Relationship Roommate Agreement! Where did that come from? He hadn't said anything about a Roommate Agreement when he asked her to move in. More importantly, she couldn't even remember the last time he mentioned The Relationship Agreement. This is about this morning. She tried to stay calm. "First of all, that's not true. A document of that length and precision obviously took time and care. Secondly, can you please explain the purpose of this Agreement further?"

Sheldon turned in his desk chair toward her with a classic sigh and eye roll maneuver. "I would have thought it would be obvious, Amy. We had a Relationship Agreement. All of my roommates are obligated to sign a Roommate Agreement. However, as this is a unique situation, I have to revise both and combine them into a single, cohesive document. I'm finding it difficult as the two sometimes contradict each other. For example, The Roommate Agreement strictly forbids touching. But kissing is included in The Relationship Agreement. I also discovered I have allowed my hormones to make me lazy, and there are several physical facets of our relationship that are not included in our existing Relationship Agreement."

As he paused for breath, Amy jumped in. "Why did you not tell me you were writing this new Agreement?"

He looked genuinely surprised. "I thought it would be obvious to you. Although, yes, you are correct I never explicitly stated I was doing it. I apologize."

"Don't I get a say in this new agreement?"

"As always, you will have several days to read and study it, and you may submit your own counterproposals as you see fit."

"What if I don't have any counterproposals?"

"You know how this works!" He was irritated now. "You just sign on the line, like you have several times before."

Still trying to hold her body and her voice as still and as calm as she could, Amy replied, "What if I don't have any counterproposals because I'm not going to sign it?"


"I said I'm not going to sign a Relationship Roommate Agreement."

Sheldon crossed his arms and glared. "Whatever do you mean? You have to!"


"Why? Why! Because, because, it's what we do!" Oh, he's angry now.

"No, Sheldon, it's what you do to control every situation. You feel like you lost control this morning, and you're just trying to regain it." She crossed her arms back at him.

"But you've always signed them!"

"Yes, I have. But I'm not going to sign them any more." He opened his mouth, but she put her hand up. "Let me finish. I signed The Relationship Agreement because, at the time, I thought I had to sign it for you be my boyfriend. I still believe that was the correct assessment of the situation. I was frightened and weak. I wanted you in my life so badly I would have done anything to make it happen-"

"Are you saying you know longer feel that way?" Angry and hurt Sheldon spoke. Amy's heart melted a little for him. No, I have to stand my ground here and now or I will lose it forever.

"I asked you to let me finish. I still want you in my life more than anything else. Anything, Sheldon, and I mean that. However, I am no longer frightened and weak and, frankly, a little scared of you. You - yes, you - have made me stronger and braver. As you once pointed out to me, I have perhaps done the same for you. I would hope that you agree with me that the greatest strides we have made in our relationship did not involve The Relationship Agreement. In fact, and certainly correct me if I'm wrong, they often directly violated it. Passionate kissing, our book club, Sleepover Nights: they are not in the agreement. At first, The Relationship Agreement was good for us, and I am glad we had it then. It made us both more comfortable. But we have outgrown it now. To revert back to a world of only rules without freedom would hold us back." Amy paused to think for moment. How do I explain what I want, and what I truly think is best for both of us? "Are you familiar with the word cadre?"

"Of course. It's from the French for framework or skeleton. In English, it usually refers to a nucleus of highly intelligent and/or trained persons that have a unifying relationship who work together to jointly perform a task," he replied in a rush.

Amy knew that he would know, but she wanted him to say it. "I purpose a cadre, not a legally binding agreement. An endoskeleton to guide our movements instead of exoskeleton to restrict them. I'm sure you would agree that we are a nucleus of two highly intelligent persons that have a unifying relationship."

Sheldon's shoulders had relaxed as she spoke, but he kept his arms crossed. Now she waited for him to speak.

"Would this cadre be in writing?" he asked.

Although Amy was surprised to have this conversation, she wasn't surprised by that question. "I suppose we could write down a few guidelines. For example, public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, but in times of great emotion they may occur."

"And either party can stop said public display of affection at any time?"

Amy smiled across the room at him. "This sounding a bit more like a rule than a guideline to me, but I think if we make the backbone of our skeleton mutual respect the conclusion would be the same."

He put his arms down and leaned forward slightly in his chair. "So what you are purposing is a Prime Directive of sorts."

Prime Directive? Why does that sound so familiar? Is it from Star Wars? She asked, "Remind me what the Prime Directive is again."

Another sigh from Sheldon, but not an angry one. He got up and walked over to join her on the sofa. "It's the guiding principle for all Starfleet officers. It's a code of ethics upon which all actions should be based."

"Well, I'll look it up on that wiki you bookmarked for me, but, yes, that's sounds similar," she said.

Sheldon gave her that grin she loved so much. "Then I agree to your cadre."

Amy took his hand and said, "And I agree to your Prime Directive."

"Amy?" Sheldon looked serious again.


"The only problem with an endoskeleton is that one's soft underbelly is exposed," he said timidly.

"Well, then it's a good thing I've already seen it." She pulled him toward her and stretched up to kiss his temple. Then she put her hand on his face, hoping to pull him in for a deeper kiss. "Dr. Cooper -"

Sheldon jumped back. "Oh, no, you don't. You've earned yourself a marathon of all the Star Trek episodes dealing with the Prime Directive."

He picked up the remote with a grin, and Amy flopped back in the sofa, groaning.

Chapter Text

They fought almost immediately after the movers had left. Not a tense but calm disagreement like they had before deciding on the Prime Directive. This time it was a yelling, screaming, shrilling, pounding fight.

They were unpacking boxes in the living room when Amy said, "You'll have to clean out the desk by the window before I can put these things away."

He stood up straighter, some of Amy's textbooks in his hands. "What? Why?"

"We'll have to move the desk over there so we can put my desk there. It can wait until tomorrow, though."

"But I had the movers put your desk here, where it belongs." They both turned to look at her desk, next the TV.

"That's where Leonard's desk belonged, not mine."

Sheldon sighed. "Are you being sentimental again? That area does not belong to Leonard. It is yours now."

"No, I am not being sentimental. I just don't want my desk there."

Frustration was rising in Sheldon's chest. "What do you mean? That is clearly where your desk should go. It completes the pattern: my desk, television, your desk. Three harmonious screens in a row."

"I don't want my desk there," Amy's voice carried frustration now, too. "I want it by the window. If we put it there, I'm just looking at a wall. I like to look out a window."

"That's preposterous," Sheldon voice's rose back. This is turning into the dining room table all over again. "There is no way you can see out a window from your computer. Your monitor blocks any view. I've never understood why you need a such a large monitor."

"Because I like it. And I like a real keyboard. Laptops are for college students. You are just jealous that my computer is bigger and more attractive than yours."

"Don't be ridiculous. I have explained this to you before. Just because you think your computer is cooler does not mean it is better. As if I could ever be jealous of your technology," he snorted loudly.

She shouted back. "At least my computer doesn't hold me hostage while it does updates. It politely informs me I have an update and allows me to choose when to do it."

"Just because you spent your salary on the overpriced supermodel of computers does not mean you have justify it to me. It may beautiful to look at, but it's empty on the inside. What did that money get you? A computer you can't repair or upgrade yourself!"

"Yeah, well, a biography of Bill Gates was never a bestseller."

"Steve Jobs was a horrible man. Sometimes he didn't bathe!" Sheldon balled up his fists.

"My technology is leaving your technology in the dust. A hundred years from now people will see your computer in a museum and laugh. Maybe I'll go ahead and donate it to the Smithsonian since it's already a relic."

Something snapped inside of Sheldon. "Do. Not. Insult. My. Computer."

"Why ever not?"

"This is exactly what is wrong with this relationship. This is the reason we'll never last. We have fundamentally different world views. You're a Mac, and I'm a PC," he screamed the last part, while literally stomping his foot.

Amy didn't reply right away. She just picked up her purse and went to the door. She screamed back, "I guess if this relationship will never last then you can stop unpacking."

She turned and left, slamming the door behind her.

Sheldon stood in the vacuum she had left behind, surrounded by the pieces of her life.

Oh no. She hasn't even lived here four hours yet, and it's ruined it. He started pacing. This would have never happened if she had just agreed to sign a Relationship Roommate Agreement. Why did she have to be so stubborn? Why was she always insisting on taking him outside of his comfort zone?

Now, in the silence, he recognized how stupid their argument had been. Should I go after her? His initial thought was no, he shouldn't show her any sign of weakness. This was exactly the soft underbelly he was worried about. Let her go back to her apartment and stew. Oh, she doesn't have an apartment anymore.

He stopped pacing. Where would she go? Not to Penny's, he would have heard that. To Bernadette's? Maybe. Where did Amy go if she needed comfort? He had never thought of that before. Maybe she didn't go anywhere. When he had given into his love for her before, he always found her at home.

The thought of Amy driving around aimlessly searching for somewhere to go, tears in her eyes, made his heart hurt.

He took out his phone and went to the tracking app. They had turned it on in San Francisco, just as a precaution if they became separated. He had forgotten until this moment. He watched the little red dot that was Amy, my Amy, going away from him.

With a long, sad sigh, he took his keys from the bowl and walked across the hallway.

Knock, knock -

Leonard opened the door before he could finish. Penny stood beside him, her arms crossed.

"I need you to drive me to find Amy."

His friend held up the keys that were already in his hand. "I know. I heard."

"I'm pretty sure all of Pasadena heard you, asshole," Penny said. "You don't deserve her, you know?"

The truth of Penny's words cut through him. But Sheldon didn't reply. There wasn't time. He had to find Amy.

It was the coffee shop where they'd first met. Once he realized where the Amy dot had stopped, it made his heart hurt more.

Leonard drove away as Sheldon looked through the window. She was sitting at a table, a cup in front of her, aimlessly toying with the tag at the end of the teabag. She looks so small and sad.

He entered and walked up to her table. She didn't look up. I need her to look up. "May I sit down?"

Amy nodded and he sat across from her. Then she spoke. "I presume you found me using Apple software on your Apple iPhone."

He could not miss the bitterness and reproach in her voice. He replied sheepishly, "Yes."

They sat in silence a bit longer. Sheldon was painfully aware that he was going to have to discuss his feelings in public again. He took a deep breath. "I apologize, Amy. I didn't mean what I said. Well, maybe the part about not being able to repair and upgrade your computer, but not most of it."

"Did you mean it when you said we'd never last?"

"No. We're binary stars locked into orbit. There is only one star in the whole universe for me to love, and that is you."

Amy looked up at him then, and he saw it was the right thing to say. But she didn't reward him with a smile. "You have a bad habit, Sheldon Cooper."

"Which one?"

Now there was a hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth. "The one in which you say something sharp and hurtful when you really don't mean it at all."

He nodded. She was right. Amy is always right. "I'll work on it."

"I think you already are. I just forget how slowly time moves for you."

"How slowly time moves for me? You do know that's not possible, time moves at the same rate of speed for everyone."

"I meant it in the colloquial sense." She paused. "I also don't think we were arguing about our respective computers."

Sheldon thought for a moment about it. "Well, I was." Then he sighed. "Okay, maybe something else, too."

She leaned in toward him. "Yes, your fear of change. If this is going to work, you have to meet me halfway, Sheldon. It's not going to be the same as living with Leonard, nor should it be. Mutual respect, remember?"

"Yes. You're right." He paused again. He wanted to say something else, to reassure her, but he didn't know the words. So instead he asked, "Should we go home?" Home. He was struck by the force of the word. We have the same home now. "I'll start cleaning out the desk by the window."

Now she smiled at him. "I know."

He cocked his head. What a strange power you have over me, Amy Farrah Fowler.

Sheldon started closing his programs with a contented sigh. Finally, a Monday back in the office was complete, and the remainder of a whole week of work stretched before him. He never should have allowed his friends to convince him to take so much time off. Work made him happy, work he understood completely, work was predictable. Work only changed when he discovered something new and exciting to cause it to change. He controlled its changes.

Amy hadn't been his roommate for forty-eight hours yet, and already his world had changed. There had been that atrocious fight Saturday evening, in which he had acted appalling. He had trouble getting to sleep that night, wondering if maybe this was all a mistake. But then when he woke up Sunday morning, he discovered she was already up, sitting at the island in the kitchen, reading a book. It was the same scene that he had recorded with his phone, the same scene that he longed for in Texas, and as it replayed before him all his doubt was gone. He felt like everything had fallen perfectly into place.

As his computer slowed down and went to sleep before him, he reflected on the past year. (Love has turned me into a hippy, after all!) It hadn't been smooth, not at all. It seemed like everything happened in fits and jumps. All the events clustered together, just like the stars clustered together in the sky.

There was the clump of events after the train, the first real kiss, the increase in conversations, the new Date Night schedule, the new included kisses. Another combination before and after he went home for vacation, when he discovered he didn't just want to kiss Amy, he wanted to taste Amy's soul, and lap her up with his tongue. There was that strong, bittersweet array around Halloween, when he had hurt her so terribly, and it was only by digging to the bottom his heart that he found a pool of love that he hadn't realized was waiting there all along. He had found the strength to do things he never thought would be possible.

Now there was this new constellation, revolving around the brightest star in his sky. My Amy. Amy was sharing, not just his life, but his home.

This year would be different, smoother, calmer. No starts and stops. Well, there would be coitus, but that was still three months away. He knew exactly when it would happen, so he could prepare his mind. This year would be placid and waveless. He would let nothing change it or upset it.

He jumped when Alex, his assistant, entered.

"Sorry to startle you, Dr. Cooper. I'm leaving, but I thought you'd want this right away. Apparently, somehow, it had gotten lost in the mail room for a couple of weeks."

He reached out for the large white envelope, a snappy retort on his tongue about the incompetence of the Caltech mail system until the blue logo in the corner stopped his breathing. Subconsciously, he reached up to press his hand against his chest.

"Dr. Cooper, are you okay?"

"No. Uh . . . yes . . . uh . . . I have to go . . . Amy . . ."

He got up and ran out of the room, across campus to the neurobiology division, clutching the envelope from the Wolf Foundation in Israel.

Thank you to my husband who helped me with the Mac vs. PC debate (I'm a Mac, he's a PC).

Also, thank you in advance for your reviews!

Chapter Text

Amy, returning from her doctor's appointment, was surprised to find Sheldon pacing in her lab, murmuring and running his hands through his hair. There were sweat stains on his shirt, which shocked her. He looked at her with feral eyes.

Oh no. This isn't good. Maybe he had suddenly processed exactly what she was doing this afternoon, and he was coming to tell her it was all wrong, they would never be more than roommates. Or even ask her to move back out.

"Sheldon, what are you doing here? Are you all right?"

He didn't answer and shoved a wrinkled white envelope into her hands.

Amy read the return address and almost screamed. She looked back at his wild face. "You haven't opened it?"

"I couldn't. I needed you." The anxiety in his voice was palpable.

"Do you want me to open it?"

He nodded forcefully. She tore away the flap, and read the letter on top of the small stack of papers. She forced a long breath out.

"What does it say?" Sheldon wailed.

"I think we need to sit down." She took his arm and forced him to sit. The she went to a drawer and took out a paper bag. She handed it to him.

Improbably, that made him look even more unmoored. "Is it that bad?"

She took another deep breath. "No. It's just that there is a . . . a complication."

Sheldon opened the bag and started breathing into it. She continued, "It seems that you've been nominated for the Wolf Prize in Physics. They are requesting additional information. But this letter is dated December first. And the information has to be submitted online by midnight tomorrow, Tel Aviv time. That's, what?, two in the afternoon here. Less than twenty-four hours."

Amy didn't know what to say. This wasn't huge, this was gargantuan. The only thing more prestigious than the Wolf Prize was the Nobel prize. This was, without a doubt, the most important thing that had ever happened to Sheldon. But he was going to lose it because of some sort of clerical error. How did this even happen?

He sat next to her, the only sound was the sound of the bag being pushed and pulled by his ragged breathes. Amy's was a jumble of emotions. Joy and elation and pride and anger and sadness. There just didn't seem a way to pull this off. Her heart was breaking for him.

He put the bag down. "Will you help me?"

"Help you? Are you going to try to do this?"

"Yes. I think if I work all night I can do it. I've always kept my research organized in the event a physics emergency arose."

She couldn't help but smile at that. Only Dr. Sheldon Cooper would have planned for a physics emergency. "Of course. But I don't think I'm the right person. Surely Raj and Leonard are better choices. I'm not a physicist."

"I don't want them to know in case I fail. Please, Amy, I need you. I trust only you with this," he pleaded.

"Then let's go to your office."

Her alarm went off at a quarter until three, but she was already awake. She had never fallen asleep. It was her second night without sleep in the past three weeks. Tonight, she had laid in bed, tossing and turning, imagining Sheldon doing the same on the other side of the wall.

The first night had been in Sheldon's office, sorting and organizing and reviewing his lists and double checking equations for him. Tonight was the night they learned if that night had been worth it.

Sheldon was already there, sitting in his spot, his laptop open on the coffee table in front of him.

"Do you want some tea, Sheldon?"

"I don't think I can."

She pulled her robe tighter and sat down next to him, leaning against him. His entire body was taut. As anxious as she felt, she couldn't imagine what he was dealing with. They sat in silence until the streaming feed started.

It was afternoon in Israel. There was all sorts of pomp, more than she expected. She wanted to scream at the screen, to rush it along. Finally, the laureates were named. Architecture, Agriculture, Chemistry, Mathematic, and Medicine. Physics would be last.

She took his hand. She heard him take a deep breath and hold it in. Her own heart stopped beating.

It wasn't him.

Neither of them spoke or moved. It felt like the living room was imploding slowly, silently. It wasn't him.

The feed stopped and the screen when blank. They still didn't move. It wasn't him.

Finally, Sheldon turned to look at her, his hand on his chest. "It wasn't me."

Then he collapsed, with his head in her lap, and he sobbed. She gently stroked his hair. There was nothing to say. She could give him platitudes, that there was always next year, that at least he was nominated, that he was still young, that his life shouldn't be defined by this. But she knew platitudes would only cut him deeper.

Between his sobs, gasping for breath, he wailed, "Amy, say something. You always say the right thing. You always make it better."

Tears were falling down her face, too, now. There was nothing to say, no right thing, nothing to make this better. And so she said the only true thing in the world, the one thing that could never be taken away from them.

"I love you." She let him sob until there were no more tears left.

Without discussion, she had led him to her bed. He had come on his own twice recently, when he couldn't sleep because of the uncertainty. She would be drifting off when she felt him lift up the overs and lie down beside her. Not for a Sleepover Night, just for comfort and warmth.

Amy held him there until he seemed to fall asleep. She felt her own eyelids getting heavy at last. But then she felt his lips on her cheek, hot and slow. Should I stop him? Would we regret doing this for comfort in the morning?

No, she wanted this, too. She also wanted the comfort she gained from his broad shoulders and blue eyes and soft lips. And so she returned the sequence they had perfected, and relished the moans he released when she ran her fingernails down his spine.

It was when he was kissing her collarbone that she heard his breath catch and another sob escape. She wrapped her arms tighter around him and held him while he cried again.

Sheldon's blue eye were directly in front of her when she woke up. Sun was pouring into the bedroom.

"What time is it?" she asked, sleep still in her voice.

"Late. It doesn't matter."

Then it all came back to her. It wasn't him. "Sheldon, how are you?"

"Terrible. But better watching you wake up."

"That's sweet," she gave a drowsy smile. This was the first time they had talked in the morning like this. Usually the person who woke up first got up to let the other person sleep. How long had he been awake, watching her? It was completely out of character for Sheldon, the watching her sleep, the disregard for time, the little compliment. She was amazed he wasn't curled up in the fetal position, catatonic.

"Amy, do think love makes you smarter? Or does it really make you a fool, like all those silly songs say?"

What a strange question. Her stomach clenched just a little bit. Why was he asking? "I don't know. I've never thought about it in those terms before."

"Most of the time, when I'm with you or I think about you, I think you've made me smarter. I understand things I never understood before. But this morning I feel like a fool."

She still wasn't sure if this was a good or bad conversation. "Why?"

"Because we've been doing this all wrong. We have been ever since I gave you that key."

Probably bad. She kept her voice calm. "What do you mean?"

He signed a little and reached up to brush a strand of hair out of her face. "I never say these things right. I'm trying to ask you to live with me."

"I do live with you." So not bad. Good, but puzzling. Maybe he's so upset he's completely forgotten the past three weeks.

"I don't want you as a roommate anymore. I want you to live in my room. Every night. I want to wake up to this every morning."

Her body filled with warmth and love. But . . . "Are you sure? I want you to mean it, not just ask because you are sad."

"I do mean it. I am sad this morning, but I've been thinking about it for a while. Ever since the night I couldn't sleep, and I came in here. I could sleep in here."

"It sounds like we should move into my room, not yours."

"Just for clarification, that's a yes?"

"Did you doubt it?"

"I love you, too, Amy."

It was the right thing to have said, after all.

I'm certain that this is not exactly how the Wolf Prize works, but there are still few things in this world about which the Internet does not tell you every single detail. All errors in process (and competency of the Wolf Foundation and the Caltech mail system) are 100% mine.

Chapter Text

They did move into Amy's room. But Sheldon's room was still there, a place to house his comic books and collectibles. A place for him to retreat to, if he needed it. However, he needed it far less than he thought he might. And it kept their friends from asking questions. There was no way they could know unless they rifled through the dresser drawers.

He had slept with Amy in her room - no, our room - for only a couple of weeks now but he had already learned so much more about her, which surprised him. He thought he knew everything there was to know about her, but he was wrong. Had he been too distracted before by his anxiety over the Wolf Prize? Or had she been holding herself back, trying to be just a good roommate, not pushing him or frightening him?

There was a plethora of things he had learned. There were far more tiny bottles in the bathroom than he thought any one person could possibly ever need. Sometimes she wore her hair in a braid when she was home. She had this odd contraption called a flat iron that she used on her hair, even though it was already straight. She insisted on painting her toenails, which was such a bizarre thing to do anyway, in the living room. They had fought about her feet on the coffee table, even though she pointed out she put a clean towel down. He slept in his old bed that night, but when he woke up she was there with him and all was forgiven. It was the last night he didn't tell her he loved her.

She sometimes liked to stop on the way to work and get something called a chai tea latte, even though he told her it was more logical to buy chai at the grocery store if she wanted it. The worst part was the alluring way she licked the foam off of the green stopper, and the way he found himself thinking about it later, in the middle of the day, when he was working. So Amy has broken free of her compartment after all.

Some nights she genuinely liked to cook, and some nights she refused to enter the kitchen. She came home from work once and put her nightgown on immediately, and he never understood why. And she was forever reading. If you couldn't find Amy, she was somewhere, lost in her Kindle.

Sleepover Night became an outdated term, and Amy proposed Amorous Activities Night. Sheldon gave in, mostly because she called him Dr. Cooper when she asked, but he threatened to move back into his room if she ever said it in public. As she continued to kiss each vertebrae of his spine, he knew it was an empty threat.

Even non-Amorous Activities Nights were magical. Even if they were both tired or not in the mood, when they fell into bed with a gentle kiss on the cheek, he always told her he loved her. Ever since their fight about the toenail polish, he didn't want her to forget. When you desperately love someone you have to tell them in order to breathe and stay alive.

Sheldon stepped into the ice cold shower, and the shock of it was sweet relief. Oh, Albert Einstein, that been a bad idea. He took a few deep breaths.

What had come over him? Now that his desire was wilting, he could think logically about this. But it wasn't logical at all.

Why did he ever allow Amy to convince him that he didn't need to knock on their bedroom door? At the time, he thought her point that it was his bedroom, too, and he'd never knocked on his own door before, was rational.

That's why when he realized he'd left his Superman comic in there last night, he just went to get it. He was so distracted by finding out exactly what The Man of Steel was going to do next, he had completely forgot Amy would be in there, changing for girls night. And there she was, her cardigan covering her panties but no skirt.

What made it worse is that she wasn't embarrassed at all. She just continued to rub lotion on her legs and gave him a smile. He'd been so flustered he told her he forget his Spider-Man comic, and everyone knew that was not remotely the same thing.

He retreated as quickly as he could to his spot, but he couldn't read. Amy came out, fully dressed, happy and chatty. She leaned over for a quick kiss to his cheek, reminded him not to wait up for her and not to worry, Leonard was picking them up so no one would be driving intoxicated. She didn't seem to notice his distraction. He went to bed early to made sure he was asleep when she came home. (Just to be sure she wouldn't forget, he'd left a note on her pillow "I love you." He tried to find it this morning to destroy it, but it was missing. Vixen.)

What was it about her legs that night? He's seen them before, even years ago when she'd been sick. And he'd seen them on New Year's Day, when he pushed the blankets off of them. For that matter, he'd been seeing them from the knee down for almost five years now. He'd certainly brushed them some nights he pushed her night gown up to reach her torso. He'd even felt the top of her thighs sometimes when he squeezed her posterior. What was so different about them now?

Tonight, when she messaged her wishes to him by running her fingers through his hair and playing with his earlobe, he found his breathing was more shallow than it had been in a long time. And when he'd reached down to push her nightgown up, he found all he could think about were her legs there. Instead of rushing past them to grasp her wonderful posterior, he'd lingered, even though it was an awkward position, to feel them with his fingertips. Her long, soft, beautiful, pale legs. The room was dark and all he was aware of was Amy's legs.

She giggled slightly. "Sheldon, that tickles."

But she didn't ask him to stop and he didn't. His hands deepened into them, no longer trailing them with his fingertips, but instead grasping, massaging. Slowly, firmly but tenderly, he made his way upwards. Suddenly, before he had time to think, before realized exactly where he was headed, his thumbs brushed something new. Amy gasped.

He sat up with force. "I have to take shower."

Now he stood in the shower, shivering. He reached out and turned the hot water on. He thought he had mastered this without cold showers and Kulinar. But this was so like Amy. Just when he thought he knew her so well, knew exactly where he stood with her, just when he became accustomed to the prevailing state of events in their relationship, something new and dangerous happened.

Amy was his Kryptonite. But this Kryptonite was cutting both ways.

He had known for several months he would do . . . it for her. He would do it for her because she wanted it. He would do it because it was expected of him, at some point. He would do it because, although he would never admit this even under the pain of torture, he was curious about it. Purely scientific curiosity. A minuscule amount. Later, when he realized how much he loved Amy, how much he had loved her even before the night of Stuart's party, he thought that is why he would do it. Because he would give Amy anything she wanted if she asked.

Sheldon thought he could blame tonight's reaction on how much . . . it was on his mind lately. He tried to tell himself it was only on his mind so much because he had started his two months of planned researching. He had allotted himself plenty of time to become use the idea, to understand the idea, to know everything there was to know about the idea, so that when he did it he would do it correctly. Because Sheldon Cooper excelled at everything.

But as he stood there, water rushing over him, he realized that all his plans and timetables and equations and trajectories were for naught. Because he had left out the most important factor. Slowly, imperceptibly, it had become no longer a matter of what he would do for Amy. It was no longer about what he would do just because she asked or because of expectations and scientific curiosity.

Now he wanted to do this with Amy. He desired to do this with Amy. He longed to do this with Amy. He wanted to know everything about her, he wanted to know her better than he knew himself, he wanted to find the very center of her and join her there. He wanted to love her in every way it was possible to love her.


Chapter Text

She had just turned on the dishwasher when Sheldon took a long pause and a deep breath.

"Amy?" He was sitting on the island, where they had eaten dinner, and he had just finished telling him about his new project at work.

"Yes?" She walked closer to him, drying off her hands.

"I've been thinking about coitus."

Her stomach filled with butterflies. "Oh, have you, Dr. Cooper?"

"Amy, I'm being serious."

She hadn't expected that. "So this is not a Dr. Cooper, Dr. Fowler conversation?"

"No." He paused again. "Well, maybe later."

She smiled on the inside. I can't wait. "What were you thinking about it?"

"I've been thinking . . . that I know . . . I'm ready." He looked down quickly.

"Oh." Amy gripped the edge of the island to stay upright. It was not at all what she thought he was going to say.

She thought he was going to ask her some sort of technical question. She knew that last night's regression was because he was thinking about it. She knew this because he had started asking her unpredictable questions, like if she thought Superman and Wonder Woman ever had coitus. She didn't mind at all, she liked that they were getting comfortable with the topic; in fact, it usually brought the Dr. Cooper and Dr. Fowler out in them. She strongly suspected he was researching it, not just thinking about it. Twice in the past week he'd snapped his laptop shut when she entered the room. And she had uncovered the most intriguing book pulled out from the bookcase in his old room just yesterday while cleaning. She was glad he was at the comic book store so she could read it herself.

"Umm . . . when did you have in mind?"

A panicked look crossed his face. "Not tonight. Dr. Cooper and Dr. Fowler will not be doing that tonight."

She put a hand on his shoulder. "It's okay. I didn't think you meant tonight." It was her turn to pause and take a breath. "Are you sure you're ready?"

"If you are."

Am I ready? She looked into Sheldon's piercing blue eyes and knew she was. "Yes."

"Good." Exactly like he had said it on the train, all those months ago. It wasn't a question or a hypothesis, it was a statement of fact. She felt like she was melting into the floor.

"What about . . ." she felt herself blushing. "What about below the waist? Do you want to hang out there awhile?"

He blushed also. "Do you?"

"I don't know. Honestly."

"Me neither. But I'm . . . it seems . . . if I try to theorize about the future based on past events . . ." Sheldon turned bright red now. "I think that perhaps once I make it to third base, I'll only want a home run."

A sports metaphor, Dr. Cooper? This is getting out of hand. She wanted to say it desperately, but she held her tongue. Also, she suspected she would feel the same. "You may be right."

"Should we decide when?"

"No, I don't think so. In daily life, I think we work better with a schedule. But it seems like our Amorous Activities Nights are better unfixed." She shrugged at the strangeness of it. She didn't speak of the horrible night they had silently agreed to never mention.

"It's quite the paradox we find ourselves in, isn't it?" He gave her his little half-smile.

She smiled back. "So, we just let it happen?"


"You know, Sheldon, Valentine's Day is this weekend, and it seems like it might be the perfect way to celebrate." She used all of her willpower not to smirk.

A look of horror crossed his face. "No. Absolutely not. I refuse to allow this to happen on the worst day of the year. Furthermore, I forbid all Amorous Activities that day. That is not up for negotiation."

Amy leaned very close to him. "Bazinga, Dr. Cooper."

Startled realization replaced the look of horror on Sheldon's face. "You are a vixen, Dr. Fowler, and I shall have to punish you." Then he slapped her, hard, across her bottom.

She squealed in delight.

Chapter Text

Sheldon was quite pleased at how this Valentine's Day was turning out. It was truly the best possible Valentine's Day scenario. No forced romance, no going out, no wearing a suit, no stupid gifts or cards. Just spaghetti and hotdogs and strawberry Qwik. There was that excessively sentimental movie About Time that Amy has chosen, but it did have rudimentary time travel so he knew she was thinking of him. They had just finished it, and he was returning from the bathroom.

He stepped into the living room to find Amy missing from the sofa. Where did she go? Is she somewhere reading? 


"I'm down here."

Now he noticed she was on the floor between the sofa and coffee table, on her knees, reaching under the sofa.

"What are you doing?"

"I dropped my lip balm, and it rolled under here."

Then she turned and bent down lower, and her wonderfully full posterior was up in the air. Suddenly, Sheldon wanted her, all of her, so badly. The force of it shocked him.

"Leave it," he practically growled.

She sat up with surprise. "But Sheldon -"

"I'll help you find it tomorrow. Right now you are coming to bed. With me."

"It's only 8:30. It's too early to sleep."

"I didn't say anything about sleeping, Dr. Fowler." He walked over and put out his arms.

She raised her eyebrows in surprise but allowed him to pull her up. "Dr. Cooper, are you proposing an Amorous Activities Night? I thought that was strictly off-limits for Valentine's Day."

"I'm proposing much more than that." He started pulling her toward the bedroom.

She drew in a sharp breath and stopped walking. She dropped his hand. "Sheldon? Are you . . . are we . . . going to . . . have coitus?"

He turned to look at her. His face softened. "Unless you don't want to."

"Yes. I mean I want to. Yes, I want to."

"Tonight? Are you sure? You can always say no, you know that."

She reached out to touch his face. "Are you sure?"

"Without a doubt." He tried to convey his every desire in his eyes and his voice.

She nodded at him. "Without a doubt."

"Good," he said that strange voice his sometimes found himself falling into for a year now, the one he first heard the night on the train. It made him realize what that voice had been all along: loving, needing, longing, wanting.

And he took her hand again, leading them forward.

It was wondrous and disastrous at the same time.

At first, it was just Amy, my Amy, the Amy he knew and loved. They kissed with passion, and they removed their clothes in a rush, so quickly he didn't have time to be embarrassed. They tumbled into bed, and he rushed through all the things to her lips and ears and neck and breasts he knew she liked. As he slid his hand across her now uncovered posterior, the part of her that had taunted him for years, he discovered it was the softest skin of all. It was so much better than feeling it through her panties. He found himself grinding into her again, but this time he was pleased to discover she returned his motions. It was as though the spirit of Captain James T. Kirk had overtaken him, and there was no fear.

But then she reached down to touch him in his most private of places, and he jerked away in surprise.

"I'm sorry. Do you want to stop?"

His heart ached. And other parts. "No, it's not that. It just surprised me. I want to do this. It's just . . . I'm afraid if I let you touch me there this may be over before it starts."

She gave him an understanding smile and kissed him. They started over, and he tried to slow down, starting at the top of their bodies and working their way down. But this time Amy brought his hand to her core, and Sheldon silently prayed for strength as he explored her there. It felt so different from he imagined, feeling was nothing like seeing it in all those diagrams he looked at. He knew what he should be doing, but somehow he couldn't find what he was looking for. Even though Amy's breathing increased, and she made little moans of pleasure, he knew it was wasn't right.

Amy put her hand down to stop him, and rolled with him and opened her legs for him and oh Albert Einstein this is really happening. He looked into her green eyes, so pure and clear tonight, and she nodded to him. So he took a deep breath, braced his arms on either side of her, and he found his way into her. They both gasped. It was the most amazing thing he had ever felt. Everything was hot and soft and perfect.

He looked at her, his mind on the verge of collapse, waiting for the silent nod they always used to tell each other to continue. Amy didn't nod. Instead she spoke. "I love you." Her hot breath on his face sent him reeling.

He fell then, pushing and pulling into her nucleus, and he couldn't think and he couldn't comprehend and all he was aware of was this moment. I love you too and you are so beautiful and you are more important than anything I have ever discovered and I love you and suddenly I feel like my heart is the Tardis it's bigger on the inside and I love you and you are more beautiful than the universe naked and I love you more than science and my spot and I can't breathe without you in the room and this is perfect and you are grander than the Noble prize and I love you and oh boy and you are oxygen and hydrogen and carbon and the rays of the sun and you make me laugh you make me happy you make me angry and I love you and you give me tranquility and I love you and you challenge me to think harder and I never thought love could feel this good and you make me stronger and braver and you are warp drive and the dark side and the light side of the moon at the same time and I think I'm going to combust and I love you so much, my Amy - Then he was blinded by pleasure, and he poured his soul into her and collapsed on her chest.

As he lay there, panting into her shoulder, he found he could think again, not just feel, and his thoughts were not good. It was too fast. It was far too awkward. I lost control. I was not gentle enough. I didn't . . . pleasure her. He knew, somehow, that it had been awful. He pulled away from her in shame, and rolled over on his back. Amy surprised him by curling up onto his chest, as though she was trying to crawl into his heart. I can't believe she wants to touch me after that. He put his arm around her tentatively, afraid of hurting her again.

They lay in silence as their breathing slowed. Why is it that no one ever told you what to say after? He didn't know if he should thank her or apologize or both. He was certain he had hurt her. All of his previous strength and fortitude was gone. He was building up courage to pierce the quiet with his words when he felt something wet on his chest.

Amy is crying. A piece of Sheldon he didn't know he had felt like it died.

"Amy?" he asked timidly. "Did I injure you badly?"

"No," she whispered back.

"I'm so sorry, Amy." He found a tear had escaped his own eye and cursed himself for it.

"Sorry for what?" She lifted her head a little.

"It was all wrong. I didn't do it right. I hurt you. I lost all control. I . . ." He let his sentence fall way with another tear.

"No, Sheldon, no. You didn't hurt me. It was beautiful." More droplets landed on his chest.

"Please don't be kind for my pride. I doubt it was beautiful for you. I didn't make you . . . happy." He finished weakly. He hadn't expected to feel shy after instead of before.

"You have made me more happy than I've ever been. All of those beautiful things that you said -"

"Things I said? I was speaking?" Now he lifted his head in surprise to look down at her. He didn't remember that. Had coitus broken his eidetic memory?

Her eyes met his. "Yes, you were whispering in my ear the whole time. About the Tardis and atoms and the moon. . .how much you loved me." She was still gently crying. She put her head back down. "It was beautiful, the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. It was like . . ." he heard her breath catch, "it was like a benediction."

Benediction. What a strange word. He mind flew over the definition and the connotations. A benediction. A blessing. A dedication. A ceremony. Something sacred. A vow.


"Shhh. Let's just be."

Once again, Amy has said the perfect thing. So Sheldon settled back, and held Amy tighter and fell into the sweetest slumber he had ever known.

He woke as the very first rays of dawn were breaking through the window. He was wrapped around Amy, holding onto to her as though he were drowning. She smells so good. He didn't realize he was rubbing her hip with his palm until she rolled over in his arms.

"Sorry I woke you," he whispered

"Mmmm," she replied into his chest. "I love the way you smell in the morning."

He kissed the top of her head and then her forehead, and she raised her face to his until their lips met. Slowly, tenderly, he memorized every part of her body all over, and then he ventured to the new, wonderful place he discovered last night. With Amy's gentle guidance, he found what he was looking for and he loved her there until she cried out beneath him. And he thought maybe it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard.

Until she welcomed him again, and this time he was able to think and it was smoother and slower and he used his new knowledge until she sang for him again. But this time, before and between her brisk cries, she whispered her vow into his ear. And he knew with certainty that was the most beautiful thing he would ever hear.

Later, there would be a secret trip to courthouse and a signature on a line and some rushed words in front of a stranger. Later, there would be an experiment to determine how long it took their friends to notice their new titanium bands. But that was still a week away.

That night, Sheldon completed the journey he had started a year ago on a train, when he had wanted to be closer, maybe just one step closer to Amy. No matter what the official record showed, that night, in their bed, Sheldon Lee Cooper married Amy Farrah Fowler.

Chapter Text

She stood in the hallway even after Sheldon had unlocked the door and entered. She waited patiently for him to notice.

"Amy, what are you still doing out in the hallway?"

"I'm waiting for you to carry me across the threshold."

"Don't be absurd."

"Please, Sheldon? It's a tradition."

"No, it's an overly sentimental romantic superstition for those of lesser minds. As I recall, it was sentiment and romance that got us in this position in the first place." He crossed his arms as he said that.

"If you don't believe in sentiment and romance, why did you send flowers to my lab this morning?" She was still clutching the bouquet of sunflowers.

He rolled his eyes. "I sent you sunflowers because they are a perfect example of the Fibonacci sequence in nature. As such, they are atheistically pleasing. No other reason."

"No other reason?" Not also an apology for the hurtful things you said when I suggested buying wedding rings? She didn't say it, though. He had already apologized, in his own way, by doing research and telling her that silver, gold and even platinum weren't strong enough for them. Only titanium would do. It had been a whirlwind week.

Instead, she tried a different tactic. "You know, the longer I stand out here, the more likely it is that Penny will see and hear us. Or Leonard will come home from work. Then our experiment will fail."

Sheldon cocked his head, thinking. That's when she knew she'd won. They had made a wager, last night. She said it be would Raj, in less than five minutes. If she won, they would play Dungeons and Dragons. He said it would be Leonard, but more than fifteen minutes. If he won, she would put on her Nurse Chapel dress. He put his arms down. "Very well."

He walked toward and picked her up swiftly. It was gangly and sweet at the same time. Once inside, he used his foot to kick the door closed. That was kind of hot. I've always liked in control Sheldon. . .

She was surprised he didn't immediately put her down. Instead he was looking at her intently. "I love you, Amy."

Tears were prickling at her eyes. "I love you, Sheldon."

"I need to put you down now." Gently, he lowered her legs back to the floor.

She started to turn away. "We should order the food, Sheldon, it's already five -"

"Wait." Train voice! She turned back to him as he spoke. "I think I'm supposed to kiss my bride, aren't I?"

She smiled at the memory of the justice of peace saying those words, and Sheldon informing him that they didn't do that in public. Apparently he wanted sentiment and romance after all. She met his lips, warm and soft and gentle.

He pulled away and smiled down at her. "I'll order the food while you take off that tiara. If I didn't know any better, Dr. Fowler, I'd think you were trying to influence this experiment in your favor by keeping it on."

"You're wrong. Raj is going to be late. He's picking up Stuart. Obviously the odds are in your favor."

Sheldon raised his eyebrows. "You invited Stuart?"

"Yes. He likes joining us. And I thought it was a way to thank him. Without his party we wouldn't be here."

"I would think letting him sublet your almost fully furnished apartment is thank you enough." Sheldon gave a quiet snort.

She smiled at his little flare of jealousy, all these years later. "Anyway, don't forget to get extra food for him. I need to find a vase for these flowers."

"Sunflowers? See, Sheldon, I knew this place would look better with a woman's touch," Bernadette said. She had noticed the vase on the coffee table almost immediately after she and Howard arrived at the same time as Leonard and Penny.

Amy met Sheldon's sparkling eyes across the room.

"I'm so glad the food is here, I'm starving," Penny said. "I just woke up from a nap. I had a dream about you, Amy."

"You did?" They all took their usual places.

"Yeah. You were standing the hallway, talking, but I don't remember what you said. It was weird." She shrugged and picked up her food.

Amy refused to glance at Sheldon. She knew she couldn't keep a straight face.

"Where's Raj? Should we wait on him?" Leonard asked. Penny froze with a dumpling in mid-air in front of her mouth.

"Nah. He should be here soon. He just texted me that he and Stuart are on their way," Howard answered. Penny popped the dumpling.

"I'm glad Stuart is coming. It's been awhile since I've seen him," Bernadette spoke.

"I'm surprised Sheldon is letting him come," Leonard said.

"Why would you say that?" Sheldon put down his fork.

Leonard shrugged. "Because I didn't think you liked him that much. You barely tolerated him while Howard was in space."

"That's not true. I find Stuart tolerable," Sheldon protested.

"You're giving compliments now? Amy has turned you into a softie," Howard quipped.

Sheldon shot him a glare.

"Hey, where were you this afternoon, Sheldon? I went to your office, but Alex said you'd left," Leonard asked.

"Oh, that. I heard that Kripke was looking for me, so I went to hide in Amy's lab," Sheldon answered. Amy bit her tongue.

"Is it just me or does it feel like something is different in here?" Penny looked around. Amy saw Sheldon glance down at his watch. Penny shrugged. "It just must be the flowers."

Amy smirked internally.

"What did you and Sheldon do for Valentine's Day, Amy? I don't think you ever told me," asked Bernadette.

"Oh, that." Amy's heart pounded a little faster. "We just stayed in and watched a movie."

"Sheldon Cooper, a regular Casanova," said Leonard with a grin.

Sheldon shot him a dirty look. But he shifted slightly on the sofa so that his thigh was pressing Amy's. Amy thought she was going to explode with tension. He spoke, "I'll have you know that Amy understands exactly how I feel about Valentine's Day. It always leads to unexpected complexities."

Amy looked down quickly, trying with all her might to be enthralled by her noodles.

The door opened then, saving her, and Raj and Stuart entered.

"Hello, everyone. Thanks for the invitation. It sure beats sitting at home watching Golden Girls reruns," Stuart said and sat down on the floor.

Raj hadn't spoken. He was still standing, his mouth slightly open.

"What's up with you, dude?" Howard asked.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Raj said loudly.

"Tell you what?" Bernadette asked.

"I can't believe this! I can't believe you would share such important news without me here! Just because I don't have a girlfriend, doesn't mean you have to treat me like a seventh wheel."

Leonard furrowed his brow. "Raj, what you talking about? What important news?"

"What do you mean what importance news? Sheldon and Amy got married and no one told me!"

An explosion of voices. "What?!" "Are you crazy, dude?" "Huh?" "Holy crap on a cracker! They're wearing rings!"

Six pairs of eyes swiveled to Amy and Sheldon. She allowed the smile that had flirted with her lips all evening to break open. Sheldon brought his eyes to hers. "Dungeons and Dragons it is." He winked at her. Right there in front of everyone.

Amy braced herself for the flood of questions and the screaming and the crying and the hugging. But none of that came. An uncomfortable silence fell over the room. This was not what she expected at all. Were Leonard and Penny mad that she and Sheldon had gotten married first?

Sheldon's hand engulfed hers. So he felt it, too. He spoke with force. "Yes, Amy and I got married this afternoon."

There was some shifting and a little cough from Bernadette, but the stiffness remained in the room. It was Leonard who broke it. "That's . . . nice. I think we're all . . . surprised. Very surprised."

"I don't see why it's so surprising. Most pair-bonded couples marry. You and Penny are getting married. Howard and Bernadette are already married. Why shouldn't Amy and I get married?"

"This is so much better than the The Golden Girls," Stuart said. No one responded to him.

Penny leaned forward. "Sweetie, I think we're all confused. You've both been so insistent that you're just roommates who make out sometimes -"

"Friends at minimum wage but nooo benefits," Howard murmured.

Penny continued without acknowledging him. "But now you're married. It's just that when you marry someone, that usually means -"

"- that you're having sex." Howard finished the sentence for her.

Amy felt humiliated. The worst part was Sheldon had asked her about this, and she told him that once everyone realized they were married they would just know that it included coitus. It would be obvious. They wouldn't have to talk about it. She looked over at him. She saw him swallow, and she was so angry at herself. He was obviously very uncomfortable. She opened her mouth to speak, but then Sheldon spoke instead.

"Everyone, listen very closely. I'm going to say something I said once before with the intention of never saying it again. This time I mean it. I will never say this again, and I expect none of you to ask about it again. We do that now. And that's all I'm going to say about it. Forever."

He was strong and forceful and in control. Amy was proud and touched by his protection for her. I love him so much.

Penny spoke again. "But -"

"Forever. Always. Eternally. In perpetuity. Infinitely. Constantly. Indefinitely." His voice had softened with each word, and now he turned to look at Amy. "Till death do us part."

She blushed under his loving gaze. Then she heard a loud sniffle.

"That is just so beautiful," Raj said between his tears.

Then there was the screaming and the crying and the hugging. And the questions, but only about the wedding. Sheldon rolled his eyes some and endured awkward hugs, but his eyes kept meeting hers in the fray.

"Did Sheldon propose?" Penny asked.

Amy, what day would work well for you this week to make this thing official? And will you please pass the shampoo? Amy just answered, "Yes."

"When?" asked Leonard.

"Sunday morning." They replied in unison.

"Wow, that must have been some movie," Howard said.

"Did you write your own vows?" Bernadette asked.

They locked eyes. Most definitely. Sheldon answered, "Please. We're scientists, not hippies."

"Who took your picture?" Amy heard Raj's question next.

"No one. I have no need of photographs," Sheldon replied. Amy knew this was a lie, too, but it was one of their secrets.

"No wedding photo?" Raj was not going to let this go. "Let's take one now!"

"Yes, Sheldon, let Raj take our picture." She said it before he could reply. He gave her a look she knew well: 45% defiance and 55% love.

"Fine," Sheldon sighed.

There was shuffling and shifting and following Raj's directions and more eye rolls from Sheldon. Someone handed Amy the sunflowers, their stems dripping. Just as Raj was just about to push the button on his phone, Amy remembered her tiara.

"Here, hold these," she shoved the flowers at Sheldon. "I have to go get something."

She ran toward the bedroom, his yell ringing after her. "This water is ruining my shirt, you know!"

Fumbling with her tiara, she ran back to stand next to Sheldon again. She put her arm around him and smiled. There was a flash.

There are two photographs. In both, Sheldon is wearing his favorite Flash tee-shirt. Amy is wearing her favorite green blouse. Her tiara is crooked.

In the first, she is smiling with abandon. Sheldon is still holding the sunflowers, and he looks vaguely alarmed. One eyebrow is raised at the camera. This is the photograph Amy keeps on her desk for all the world to see.

In the second, Sheldon is handing the flowers back to Amy, their hands meeting around the bouquet. They are looking at each other, lost in their little world, both smiling softly, telegraphing love. This is the photograph Sheldon keeps tucked inside his desk drawer, and he never tells anyone how often he opens the drawer to look at it.


Thank you for reading. All reviews are appreciated!