The Science of Love
Summary – One cottage. Two Strangers. Three weeks. What could possibly go wrong?
Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Senior Theoretical Physicist at Caltech University, desperately needs some time away to decompress. He retreats home to Galveston, Texas where his family owns a lakeside cottage on Clear Lake. What better way to recharge the batteries away from civilization, noise and his roommate and his girlfriend's constant distractions?
Enter Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, a gifted Neuroscientist and Professor. On her way to work at Caltech herself, she answers an AirBNB ad for a rental in Galveston over the Christmas and New Year holiday's while waiting for her new townhouse to be ready in California.
Listed by Sheldon's twin Melissa, the woman had no idea her brother was occupying the cottage– Could these two strangers actually survive in the same house together for three weeks, or will Sheldon's unsociable nature give the woman a run for her money? An irresistible force of nature, an immovable object, and a dog named Chaucer. It's going to be an interesting three weeks. Scratch that – it's going to be an interesting year.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of The Big Bang Theory. This is for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
A/N - Welcome friends to my new story. I hope you will enjoy it. A few things I'd like to say - This is a bit A/U. This is a slightly different Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler then we're used to. I've kept most things IC and canon, with a few exceptions that you will note as time goes by. I've also changed some of the particulars to suit the storyline. The story begins in Texas, but continues later in Pasadena. As with my story The Chaos Cognizance, I will open up each chapter with verse. But instead of music, it will be poetry.
"By innocence I swear, and by my youth,
I have one heart, one bosom, and one truth,
And that no woman has, nor never none
Shall mistress be of it save I alone."
― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Sheldon dropped his luggage onto the floor with a heavy thud, before falling face first onto the plush bed. It was nice to be home, although he would never admit to it if asked.
The early morning sun had morphed into a mid-afternoon rainstorm, its effects cooling down the air considerably. While December in Texas was mildly pleasant, this was still the Deep South. And the Gulf coast. Heat and humidity reigned here, even so close to Christmas.
Sheldon tried to shrug out of his navy blazer, the task made difficult due to his position on the bed. Sitting up with a sigh, he yanked the garment off and threw it across the room. Luckily, it landed on his old desk chair, and he smiled at the fact he wouldn't have to get up to hang it up right away as it landed more or less in a neat pile.
He couldn't wait to begin decompressing. It had been a hellacious year for the Theoretical Physicist, and he desperately needed some downtime. Not long ago, Sheldon scoffed at having to take personal leave for any reason. A sick day was frowned upon by him. A vacation, was unheard of. Yet with the long months of research and teaching that had hit a brick wall, he was looking forward, surprisingly, to being alone and resting. He reasoned that he could get more work done here, anyway, without the constant interruptions.
His first thought was to go to San Francisco, or perhaps Big Sur. Either of the California cities would have been suitable for a vacation, but after a phone call with his sister in October, Sheldon decided coming back to Texas was the likely solution.
Missy had told him that the family was hoping he would come out to spend Christmas with them. The family cottage on Clear Lake was still vacant, and it would be a perfect place for him to get some down time. At first, he refused her offer. She lived in Austin now with her husband and son, but he knew she often came out to the cottage herself for some R&R. He told her he'd think about it, and as October faded into November, and then December, he realized it was a good idea. He didn't bother to let her know, since he figured he'd surprise them on Christmas morning at their mother Mary's house in Galveston.
Sheldon grimaced as he worried who else might be at the Christmas luncheon Mary always put on. Perhaps his dumber than dirt cousins. Or that Sheriff he knew had taken his mother out on a few occasions. He gritted his teeth as he imagined the civil servant putting his paws on his devout Christian mother.
Looking around his childhood bedroom, the one he frequented on weekends and summer vacations, he felt a strange sense of loss. While this place was certainly no longer his home, he felt a wistfulness envelop him that he hadn't ever felt before. He suddenly longed for a chance to go back to when he was younger, and relive all of the milestones he had missed out on.
Sheldon sighed, knowing that was impossible. Time had marched on, and he was where he was meant to be. So his life wasn't a cookie cutter version of what another's might be. He was no ordinary man, anyway. Little League, Homecoming, Prom…all things he never got to experience and never would. He was fine with that. He thought he was, anyway. But being back here, where his roots ran deep, made him question all over again just who he was in the grand scheme of things.
Leaving Texas was both the hardest and easiest thing Sheldon had ever done. The former, because he loved his family dearly (when they weren't driving him crazy spouting useless drivel), and the latter, because he associated no good memories with the Lone Star state save for said family. He was only too happy to leave the array of tumbleweeds and cowboys behind him, opting instead for the more cerebral pulse of the coast.
Having graduated from College at the age of fourteen, and diagnosed with an IQ of 187, he thrived in an environment more suitable for a man of his caliber. Open ranges and bull rings held no place for a genius.
Working for such a prestigious University as Caltech was an honor. Invited to work there and given 'the keys to the castle', as Leonard called it, was certainly an honor. He had made great breakthroughs with his research, in the search to prove String Theory. But the last year at work had been a trying time for the Physicist. After switching his field of research from String Theory, his first love – to Dark Matter, his new Siren…he found that the transition wasn't as easy as he had first hoped. He feared that he would never be able to make a sound scientific breakthrough without peace and solitude.
He had ten white boards in the garage here that he was itching to fill up, and three whole weeks of solitude in which to do it.
While Sheldon prided himself on being able to adapt to any situation, he also didn't like change. And things were changing in his world, whether he wanted to admit them or not.
For one, his best friend and roommate, Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, had tied himself to their neighbor Penny and decided to become engaged. Sheldon had long suspected the pair were headed down that road; since Penny moved across the hall from them seven years ago, they had been inseparable. At first, Sheldon had chalked it up to hormones, and the need for sexual release. At least, in Leonard's case. But as time marched on, Sheldon realized it was more than just physical attraction between the two. It was worse. It was…love.
The word alone didn't frighten Sheldon.
Love. Such a benign word. A simple word. A four letter word.
It was what love represented that scared Sheldon to death. Commitment. Sacrifice. Relenting. Acquiescing.
In other words…dying a slow death.
Sheldon had watched his parent's marriage combust before his eyes. They grew to despise each other before his father died when Sheldon was fourteen; the year he graduated with his first PhD. They had fought like cats and dogs for as long as Sheldon could remember…which was saying something since Sheldon possessed an eidetic memory.
Sheldon watched in horror nightly as they fought, Mary spewing accusations at him that Sheldon didn't understand. The words alcoholic, adultery, and bastard were ingrained in Sheldon's memory banks forever, though. And while he always felt torn between his parents and who to 'side' with, it was clear his mother was the victim. She would cry at night and Sheldon and Melissa would huddle in their room, staring at each other without saying a word. When George Sr. passed away from a heart attack, it was the turning point for Mary. She barely spoke a word for a month, and their Meemaw had to move in to take care of them all.
Why did people who loved each other behave that way? Why did they take great pleasure in inflicting pain on the other…or tearing each other to pieces with words? Things like love, emotions, relationships and caring were messy at best, anyway. They weren't words in the Sheldon Cooper lexicon.
Sheldon swore that no woman would ever have such power over him. He knew his father died harboring regrets, and he knew his mother still resented not being able to have closure.
It was that, and so much more, that made Sheldon close off his heart and mind to the prospect of love, in all of its forms. He cared about and enjoyed his friends, but at a distance. He cared about his family and enjoyed visiting with them, but in small doses. The one thing Sheldon Cooper did not need nor want, was entanglements.
This solitude had worked well for him for 35 years. He saw no reason for it to change now. Even coming here, back to Texas, wasn't without its trade-offs. He wouldn't have to spend the overbearing Christmas and New Year holidays with his group of merry friends, but he would have to spend it with his family; his religious zealot of a mother, his dingbat sexpot of a sister, and his burly brother. The only saving grace would be seeing his beloved grandmother, his Meemaw. Without her presence, he would be happy to simply lay in this bed all day Christmas and watch TV.
The hours passed and Sheldon was startled by the sound of an approaching vehicle. He sat up on the bed, looking around the room groggily. He must have dozed off. The early morning flight and drive in from Houston must have taken more out of him than he thought.
Pushing aside the curtains, he looked out of the window blankly.
Who could that be? He wondered with vexation. If it was some door to door salesman or worse…some religious nut looking to convert him, he would send them packing on their way in no time.
He slipped his shoes back on that he had previously removed, and made his way downstairs.
Amy pulled into the gravel stone driveway, anxious to see the house that would be her home for the next three weeks. Turning off the engine, she sat in the car and stared up at the cottage with admiring eyes. It was lovely; just as Mrs. Bradshaw had described it.
Two stories, right on the lake with an amazing view she could see beyond the driveway. There was a small dock with what looked to be a rowboat moored next to it. The lake was calm, glittering in the late afternoon sun. It had obviously rained earlier, and the raindrops clung to leaves and the grass making them sparkle. The entire property bespoke peace and quiet.
In a word, it was charming.
She was looking forward to recharging her batteries and preparing for her new life in Pasadena. It was just what the Dr. ordered before the chaos of the fall semester began. She already missed her life back in Massachusetts, especially her few friends. But when the opportunity to teach at such an esteemed University as Caltech presented itself, Amy couldn't refuse. It didn't hold the Ivy League opulence of Harvard, but she was happy with her choice. Someday, if Harvard called her to teach at her alma mater, she would be ready. Until then, she was excited to move to the West coast and begin anew there.
Sighing, Amy swung her legs out of the car, grabbing her few bag in the process. She took her time as she made her way to the door, admiring the view. Perhaps this evening, she could sit on the dock after dinner and get some correspondence done. Mrs. Bradshaw mentioned to her that the sunsets here, since the house faced west, were absolutely stunning. She smiled as she fished out the set of keys that were couriered to her three days ago from her vanity case.
Slipping the key into the lock, she frowned when it didn't budge. Removing it, she ran it across her skirt to remove any debris. She tried the key again, but was met with the same result.
"Curses," She said in frustration, staring at the key with narrowed eyes. "Do cooperate with me, please." She said acerbically, ramming the key in a final time.
'Ah! Pay dirt', she thought, smiling happily as the tumbler clicked.
In the next instant, glee was overtaken by shock as the front door opened abruptly. Amy pitched forward into the arms of someone, involuntarily releasing a small scream for the fact she almost fell, as well as being caught by someone she didn't expect to be there. Daring to look up, her eyes widened as they took in the one who caught her.
The man who opened the door was handsome. Very handsome.
So handsome, in fact, that Amy found herself stumbling over her feet as she stared up at him in a state of shock. He was dressed in a well-tailored ensemble of navy trousers and a white buttoned down shirt, although he looked rumpled like he had fallen asleep in his clothes. He was tall, as well. She drew back her head to meet his stare, which was decidedly…unfriendly. His mouth, though very full and sensuous, was held in a firm line. His face was angular and very regal, short parted hair sitting impeccably neatly upon his forehead. He was clean shaven, the skin of his cheeks and chin looking incredibly soft. Amy blinked slowly as she took in every detail. He wasn't ruggedly handsome. He was, in a word…beautiful.
He looked like what her Great Aunt Flora would have described as a wholesome boy next door. In this age of men dressing like bums, it was refreshing to see one who looked so dignified and who obviously took great care in grooming. No visible piercings, no tattoos…at least, none that she could see.
He looked around the perimeter of the property before settling his eyes on hers with steely mistrust.
Amy had never quite seen his color eyes before. The blue was like the cerulean color that Vincent Van Gogh might have used, tempestuous and deep. The coldness behind them threw her for a moment, though. They gave one the illusion of friendliness and warmth. But as they roamed over her person with a slow perusal that she found intrusive, Amy felt a shiver go through her. She felt a warning coming off of him in waves. And that warning said, 'You are not welcome here'.
Regaining her ability to speak, she opened her mouth to do so. But he beat her to the punch.
"Who are you and what are you doing opening my door?" He asked her angrily.
Amy caught her breath, her eyes widening in fear.
"U…Um…" She stuttered, angry at herself for her sudden inability to articulate anything.
"Who are you?" He asked her again, even ruder than the first time. Amy's mouth opened and closed quickly before she could catch herself. Her assumptions were correct. Being a Neuroscientist, she could normally size people up rather quickly upon their behavior. She was a bit startled, though, to have read this stranger so quickly…based on nothing more than a look and three words.
Well, at least I'm not losing my touch, she thought wryly.
"I'm…Amy. Amy Farrah Fowler. I've rented this cottage until January 3rd from a Melissa Bradshaw," She said eagerly, reaching into her bag to pull out the rental receipt. The man before her stared at her with narrowed eyes, not even bothering to look at the receipt. Amy held it out between them, her arm growing tired as the man ignored it. Instead, he focused on her with an intensity she found jarring.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, he looked away and rolled his eyes. Amy studied his profile. He was as handsome from the side as he was from the front. She watched in fascination as his long eyelashes swept across his eye sockets as he blinked. He had twin moles on his left cheek that somehow only added to his perfection. She had the strange urge to reach out and touch them.
Good God, was she going insane?
Sheldon turned abruptly to catch her staring at him with a strange expression. Softness? But that only confused him more. Why would a total stranger…a trespasser at that, be looking at him with fondness?
Amy noticed the man swallow deeply, before clearing his throat.
"That's impossible. My family owns this cottage, myself included. Melissa Bradshaw knew I was coming here. She wouldn't have rented it out without my permission," He said hotly, stepping outside and closing the door behind him. When he folded his arms across his chest and glared at her with suspicious eyes, Amy grew weary.
He owned this place? Then why was Mrs. Bradshaw renting it out? Were they…married? Separated? That must be it. Perhaps they were estranged, and he didn't want to leave or be forced out. The last thing she wanted to do was step into a marital dispute. But the fact still remained: she had rented this place for three weeks.
Amy cleared her throat as well, cautiously stepping up to the man as close as she dared. HIs eyes widened at her brave attempt.
"Well, I spoke to Mrs. Bradshaw four times over the last month. I found the listing for the rental on Airbnb. She said it was her family's cottage, and currently no one was occupying it. My last conversation with her was two nights ago, before I left Boston. She never mentioned that you owned this place, nor that you would be here," She said as firmly as she could. She didn't want to come off as rude, but she wanted to get her point across.
Mr. Blue eyes seemed to grow even more agitated. He let out a sarcastic chuff, rolling his eyes again.
"Of course, she wouldn't. She has no common sense whatsoever," He said in displeasure, shaking his head. "I'm sure she simply forgot the hour long conversation we had about it back in October. Typical." He seethed, shaking his head from what Amy gathered was a practice he was long accustomed to.
Amy's eyes widened at his bitter tone. Before she could stop herself, the words were out of her mouth, making her cringe as they moved past her lips.
"Is she your…wife?" Amy asked, shrinking back when the tall stranger fixed her with a look of disgust mixed with incredulity.
"No! She is not my wife. She is my sister. And it doesn't matter who she spoke to or what she promised. I told her I was thinking of coming at the end of December. She had no right to rent this house to you." The man glared at her as though she were an interloper, making her take a step back.
Amy began to panic. This man obviously owned this place in some form, and it was clear he did not want her here. She was in quite the precarious situation. Alone in a strange state, her rent already paid, yet being prevented from lodging here due to this man.
"Mr. Bradshaw…" Amy began tentatively, only to be interrupted by the man.
He advanced on her with a look of repugnance so fast, that she took two more steps back.
"Cooper. I am not a Bradshaw. I am a Cooper. Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Bradshaw is my dolt of a brother in law," He spit out, dusting off his arms for imaginary lint.
Amy pinched up her face at his rudeness. What was his problem, anyway? Amy folded her arms, trying to keep her temper in check.
"I beg your pardon. Dr. Cooper. Your sister, Mrs. Bradshaw, promised me three weeks lodging here. I have a receipt to prove it, as I was saying."
Again, he cut her off with a dismissive wave of his hand.
"I'm not interested in any receipt. I am staying here. Which means, obviously, that you cannot. I am sorry for your misfortune, but that is neither my fault, nor my problem. Good day to you, Amy Farrah Fowler."
He sounded anything but sorry, and Amy wanted to slap the smug look of derision right off of his handsome face. The nerve of him!
He made to go inside, attempting to slam the door in her face. Amy had had enough. Putting her hand out, she stayed the door. He looked first to her hand on the door, and then to her face, in shock.
"And I'm sorry to tell you this, Dr. Cooper, but I have renter's privilege. I paid in full, and I have a receipt. I am not leaving these premises except being escorted off of them by a Sheriff.
His eyes widened at her tone and her words. It was obvious this tyrant was not used to people telling him the score, evidenced by the shock on his face. He narrowed his eyes to slits as his face set in stone. If he didn't look so menacing, he might even have been…sexy.
"What the hell are you thinking? She chastised herself. When he opened his mouth to speak, though, any attraction she might have felt went out the window.
"Oh, that can be arranged, little lady. I'm sure the Sherriff will be more than happy to arrest you for trespassing on private property," He spat, once again folding his arms indignantly.
Amy narrowed her eyes in what she hoped was a menacing fashion. The gloves, as they say, were now off.
"And I'm sure the Sheriff will be interested to know your family has stolen $2,000.00 from me for three weeks lodging. Is this that 'Texas Hospitality' I've heard so much about? Are you all a bunch of thieves and rude people? I should have known better than to trust anyone on the internet." She said angrily.
Sheldon glared at her. How dare she? She was the one trespassing here. Yet as he stared at her with distaste, a part of him couldn't help but feel bad for her situation. It was just like his absent-minded sister to make this arrangement without talking to him first. Not bad enough to let her stay, though.
"I didn't steal anything from you. I know nothing about your arrangement with my sister. It's not my fault she didn't check with me first." He said, his earlier bravado dying down, but the anger still remaining in his voice.
It was Amy now who crossed her arms in a mistrustful manner.
"And it isn't my fault your family doesn't communicate better. But no bother; get the Sheriff here. Better yet, I will call him myself." She yelled, turning around to storm back to her car. Sheldon watched her as she opened the door, pulling out her cell phone and pressing the 911 feature.
She was really doing it. He had been bluffing, thinking if he threatened her, she would simply go away. But no. She was not done yet. Her eyes met his as she spoke to the operator, rattling off the address and assuring them it wasn't an official emergency, but she would like a trooper out there soon, all the same. When she was done, she disconnected the line and stood staring at him, steam practically coming out of her ears.
Sheldon sighed in agitation. This was not going to be a good day, he could tell.
A/N - Thank you for reading.