Whatever Leonard had been expecting, it wasn't a hug.
Whatever Sheldon said about not being affected by Professor Proton's (as he would always be remembered as to them, regardless) death, he and the rest of their group knew that you couldn't just bypass death like it didn't happen. And maybe Sheldon processed things differently - okay, yeah, he did process things differently, he was Sheldon - but it all boiled down to emotional levels and feelings and how you were able to cope with that. Sheldon didn't cope well with it, Star Wars Day notwithstanding.
Star Wars Day was just a distraction in order to take his mind off of what had happened and he thought he could get away with just ignoring what had happening. For all of the 'He wouldn't be grieving' and 'Funerals? No, thank you' that Sheldon had said about the whole thing, clearly he was bothered by it and they all knew it. Which is why Bernadette and Amy were making that cake for him and why Leonard was letting him go ahead with Star Wars Day without making too much of a fuss, why Howard and Raj were asking if he was alright even if they all knew that Sheldon hated to be asked if he was alright because he 'clearly was'.
Sure, Sheldon was obsessive-compulsive and annoying and strict and neurotic and overbearing and insensitive and generally an all-around pain in the ass sometimes, but that was Sheldon and Leonard had pretty much figured out that that was Sheldon from the first time they'd met. He had accepted it, and so had Penny and Howard and Raj and Amy and Bernadette, and thus, their little dysfunctional family still continued to have dinner sprawled out across the sofa with Sheldon in the same spot since the moment that they'd brought the sofa in because that was them and that was what they did. It was their own little version of caring for each other and caring for Sheldon because it made Sheldon happy and they had to make Sheldon happy because having Sheldon happy was, irrationally, one of the best things in the world.
Leonard sighed quietly, putting his arms around Sheldon in return. He didn't say anything and neither did Sheldon, but that was fine, because emotions worked better in silence when it was them.
It never did fail to strike him just how, well, fragile Sheldon could actually be. He clammed up if people started arguing, tucking himself into corners with comic books and an alternate reality to disappear to. He always ate before going on rides at Disney World and he always threw up, no matter what Leonard warned him about. Give him an autographed napkin from Leonard Nimoy and he'd bounce around for days (never-mind that Leonard was jealous of that, still, although he didn't say anything).
If someone important to him died, he felt that same crushing blow somewhere straight in his heart. Sure, he dealt with it in his own way, but he felt it nonetheless.
His job was just to be there when all of it caught up with Sheldon, like now, and make sure he was there to hold the pieces together when they started to crack and crumble.
Leonard patted Sheldon's back, squeezing him gently.
Then Sheldon pulled away and the moment was broken. It had passed, but it had been there. It had happened, Sheldon had had his private moment to work through it and Leonard had seen him through it, and the crisis was, for now, diverted.
Especially, he thought, as Sheldon announced that he wanted to watch Star Wars from the beginning, which, of course, they inevitably would, and even as he was dozing out on the sofa after a large slice of geometrically-astounding cake and the warm atmosphere within their apartment, watching Sheldon's head sink lower on his fist as he struggled to keep his eyes open, only made Leonard smile again.
Yes, I jumped on the tBBT bandwagon. Well, actually, I've been on the bandwagon for awhile (okay, that's a lie, too... I only started watching it 'religiously' this season, but caught mostly random re-runs beforehand), but this is the first time I wanted to write fanfiction for it because. that. hug. Their friendship is beyond sweet (which is, incidentally, a word I wouldn't usually use to describe Sheldon. :P)
I do not own The Big Bang Theory (or Star Wars). Thank you!