Chapter One

The Engagement Photos Expedition

Mid-morning on a Saturday in late July 2017, Dr. Sheldon Cooper stood regarding his reflection in the mirror, making sure his bow tie looked perfect. Standing alone in the Kilauea room of his friends Sally and Glenn's bed and breakfast, he listened to the house around him, bustling with movement and noise. He could hear a large number of people talking downstairs, cheerful, excited voices, waiting for the ceremony, Sheldon imagining them milling around. He looked up at the ceiling, his fiancé's room directly above his, and he heard footsteps, knowing she, like himself, was making the final preparations for their nuptials.

Sheldon sighed, feeling more happy than nervous, remembering leaving Rosemary Fox, his true love, in the wee hours of the morning. He'd been chased from her room wearing only his underwear by his future sister-in-law Lillian, who yelled at them both about some ridiculous wedding superstition about the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony. Complete malarkey. Sheldon pointed out that Rosemary was not wearing her dress; in fact, she wasn't wearing anything but a sheet off the bed, to which Rosemary, blushing with embarrassment and laughing at the same time, said Lil had a point and he should go, scoffing at her sister that they were just cuddling. Sheldon confirmed that this was in fact the case, as they'd finished with coitus an hour prior.

The fragrant forest air wafted into the room, the morning warm and pleasant. Washington state saw a rather mild spring and currently experienced a hot summer, but weather in the forests near Mt. St. Helens, the location of the bed and breakfast, and thus the Fox-Cooper wedding, remained mild and sunny.

Sheldon reached into the inside pocket of his tuxedo and pulled out the paper on which he'd written his vows to Rosemary. He knew them by heart, but also knew having a backup in case he got nervous, as often happened in front of a group, was a good idea. He'd completely forgotten his speech when he asked her to marry him, so he didn't want to forget this time, not with everyone watching.

A knock sounded at the door.

"Come in," he said.

Erik Koster, Amy's husband and the Fox-Cooper wedding photographer, stuck his head in the room.

"Hey Sheldon," he said, slipping into the room and closing the door quietly. "Was just up taking pictures of Rosemary getting ready. Wanted to get a couple of shots of you."

Sheldon nodded, remembering the schedule he and Rosemary made with Erik two weeks ago.

"How is Rosemary?" he asked.

"She looked beautiful, Sheldon. And she's so happy," beamed Erik, snapping a few pictures of Sheldon straightening his bowtie.

"Naturally. Rosemary is the most beautiful woman in the world. Even Helen of Troy would shy in comparison," Sheldon said, then panicked. "Wait! Don't tell her that! That's in my vows! I wanted to put in some historical references, with her as a historian, and…and…"

"Sheldon, I'm not heading back up there before the ceremony, and I wouldn't say anything anyway," Erik assured him, looking at some of his recent shots on the camera. "But that is a great line."

Sheldon strained a bit to look at the screen on the camera. "Do you have pictures of Rosemary?"

Erik looked up with an amused expression. "Yeah, but you're not looking. Bad luck."

Sheldon rolled his eyes. "Those superstitions are ridiculous."

"I heard you got in a bit of trouble sneaking up to see the bride early this morning," Erik said slyly.

"Does Lillian have to be such a blabbermouth?" lamented Sheldon. "She's worse than Penny sometimes.

Erik just shrugged and posed Sheldon for a couple more pictures, cringing every now and then.

"Sheldon, why don't you think of koalas…or better yet, Rosemary," Erik encouraged. "You solved that problem when we shot the engagement photos."

Sheldon nodded, remembering that day well.

February 2017

Erik drove his Mustang north on Interstate 5, heading to Tacoma for the night before going to the coast to visit his family in Ilwaco for another three days. Amy Fowler-Koster, his wife, sat beside him, both singing to his Disney playlist. He stole a glance at her, feeling a wave of love surge in his heart. His wife and mother of his child, as she was almost three months pregnant, Amy practically glowed. They'd shared so much in the nearly two years they'd been together, and he couldn't wait for what the next year would bring as their child entered the world.

"Do you have any other ideas for photos?" asked Amy, turning down the music.

"Well, just the boat. Jeremy said to meet us at the port at one," Erik glanced at the clock, showing noon. "We're almost there. Sheldon and Rosemary are supposed to be at the port."

For their engagement photos, Erik suggested Rosemary and Sheldon find places around town they knew and loved. They made a list, including the museum where she worked, the comic book shop, and the Puget Sound itself. Jeremy, a high school buddy of Erik's, owned and operated a small fleet of sightseeing boats that gave tours of the Sound out of Tacoma and Seattle. Erik arranged a two hour jaunt around the Sound to get some photos of the couple.

Amy sighed. "I can't believe Sheldon moved all the way up here from Pasadena, away from everyone."

"Well, the way you guys describe Sheldon from before is not the Sheldon I know," said Erik, remembering being slightly weary of the physicist when he first met Amy, her having had some sort of relationship agreement with him.

"I think breaking up with him is the best thing I ever did…for both of us," Amy said, staring out the window.

"I won't argue with that," Erik laughed.

"And I think getting away from the group…well, everyone always gave into him," Amy continued.

"Rosemary doesn't seem to take his shit," Erik chuckled, then stopped, remembering Amy did date Sheldon, did put up with his shit. But Amy nodded.

"Yeah, I coddled him too much. We all did," she said. "And Rosemary likes a lot of the things he does, that nerd stuff. Other than being awkward and our work, we didn't share any interests." She stopped and shook her head. "I remember being continually reminded how boring my interests are. But us…" She leaned over and kissed Erik's cheek. "Well, we have our westerns and memories of Gabon and great sex…"

"One of my favorite interests."

"And books and monkeys and Disney and…"


"No, still just you," Amy giggled. "But I have been enjoying sports more."

"And I medieval literature," Erik added.

"You just like the Miller's Tale in The Canterbury Tales," she laughed.

"It's dirty," Erik said. "Good stuff." He paused, bringing his right hand over to rest on her stomach. "And soon we'll have another mutual interest, keeping us up at night, dwindling our savings for their future college expenses."

"Tiny little socks," Amy said whimsically.

"Little laces on itty bitty Nikes," Erik added softly.

The couple laughed as they pulled into Tacoma.

Arriving and parking at the port, Erik and Amy spotted Sheldon and Rosemary standing on one of the docks, looking at some of the larger ships. Both wore jeans and flannels, the February air cold but clear. The duo looked very Pacific Northwest, making Erik grin. Rosemary did a good job with Sheldon.

"Hey guys," shouted Erik, getting their attention.

Sheldon and Rosemary hurried over, Rosemary wrapping her arms around both Erik and Amy, looking happy and excited. Sheldon went for a handshake greeting, although Amy pulled him forward for an embrace.

"It's after one now, so we better go meet Jeremy," Erik said, glancing around and spotting the dock number his friend indicated. He turned to Amy. "Meet you at the Starbucks we saw driving in?"

She kissed him sweetly, making Erik want to linger a bit longer, hold her in the crisp, chilly weather.

"See you, honey," she said, turning toward the coffee shop.

"You're not coming?" asked Sheldon.

"I've been getting bad nausea lately," Amy said. "Got sick twice on the way up here. Motion sick."

"But of course I was prepared with bags," Erik said, pulling Amy to him. "My poor wife."

"He's just grateful I didn't get any on the Mustang," she laughed. "I'd like to come, but a boat would be a bad idea."

"Will you be fine for dinner with us tonight?" asked Rosemary. "Sheldon requested I make you my chili and fry bread."

"Sounds perfect," smiled Amy, who said her good-byes and drifted away, out of the port.

Soon, Erik had Rosemary and Sheldon on Jeremy's boat, photographing them with water and islands in the background. The grey skies provided the perfect lighting. The couple wore outfits bringing out their natural coloring, no doubt Rosemary's doing. And Rosemary's long, loose black shining hair provided an excellent action element for many shots.

But Sheldon's smile. What the hell, thought Erik.

As he was snapping some pictures of the couple standing with a beautiful forested island behind them, Erik finally lowered his camera.

"Sheldon, what is up with that weird smile?" he asked.

"This is how I smile," he argued.

"No, I've seen you smile," Erik said. "The look you are giving me is like Ronald McDonald on crack." Erik thought for a moment, remembering Amy's story about Sheldon needing to think about koalas. Such a strange dude. "Why don't you think about koalas?"

Sheldon furrowed his brow, looking angry. "Has Amy been saying…" but he stopped when Rosemary whispered something in his ear, causing a wide grin to spread across his face. A real smile. Erik reacted quickly, as he had to do many times with animals in the wild, getting a couple of great shots.

"Erik!" yelled Jeremy from the boat's second level. "Orcas! Starboard!"

"Holy shit," he cried, grabbing Sheldon's arm, who in turn grabbed Rosemary, and they dashed around the boat.

"It's unsafe to run across the deck of a ship," Sheldon said, sounding a bit panicked.

A pod of orcas played in the Sound, the majestic animals occasionally leaping out of the water. Perfect, thought Erik, taking a few pictures, then looking up.

"It would be better on the upper deck," he said, pointing them toward the stairs. Rosemary went forward without hesitation, her brown eyes gleaming with excitement, but Sheldon held back.

"Won't things be a bit rough up…" he began.

"Come on, baby boy," shouted Rosemary, already up top. "I cannot believe our luck!"

Erik couldn't either, wishing Amy could be here to see the killer whales. He scrambled up the stairs.

He stood alongside Rosemary, watching the orcas, about ten of them, swimming together. Rosemary had her hand on her heart, smiling broadly, staring at them, and Erik snapped a few shots without her noticing. Turning around, he saw Sheldon still below.

"Sheldon, come on!" he yelled. "Wild animals are unpredictable. We don't know how long…"

"Yes, they are unpredictable. And so is the sea and…" he yelled back up at them, but Rosemary ran to the stairs.

"Sheldon, get up here now or I will not wear those red boots under my wedding dress," she hissed down at him.

Puzzled, Erik saw her comment seemed to work. Sheldon didn't hesitate in walking up the stairs. Those must be some red boots.

After succeeding in getting the terrified expression off Sheldon's face, Erik got several excellent shots of couple with the whales in the background. By that time, Jeremy turned the boat around and headed back to Tacoma.

Amy put down her phone after talking with Jill Henderson, her friend and fellow primate researcher, who she worked with on her recent study in Gabon. Marveling how a ten minute conversation could change your life, Amy now had a lot to think about, and she wished her and Erik were home in their comfortable apartment, Honeybee curled up on the couch next to them, so they could discuss this incredible opportunity.

Looking at the clock to see she'd need to meet them in five minutes, she put her tablet, extra scone, and phone back in her bag, grabbed her half-drunk decaf black tea, and began to walk back to the port.

Amy sat on the bench near the dock, watching their boat come in, the trio finally disembarking. Erik walked behind the couple, who held hands, and gave Amy a thumbs up. She smiled, having no doubt Erik got some amazing photos. He always did.

"How about we go to the ice cream parlor near the comic shop. My treat," said Rosemary, pulling out her phone and frowning. "But I need to return this call from Senator Ludgate first. We have an important meeting over the salmon conservation bill this week. Excuse me."

Rosemary walked away, talking in a businesslike tone.

"How is Rosemary doing as a senator?" Amy asked.

"Excellent," said Sheldon, watching Rosemary pace around as she talked. "She's drafting an education reform bill, and she has gained supporters in the state house. Of course, her running was all my idea in the first place."

Amy just laughed and rolled her eyes. Erik pulled her into an embrace, kissing her nose.

"Missed you, babe," he said, then noticeably shivered. Reaching into his pockets, he frowned. "Left my gloves at Jeremy's helm. Be right back." He turned and jogged back to the boat.

Amy turned to Sheldon, who had taken a seat on a nearby bench to wait. Amy joined him, and both sat in silence.

Turning to study Sheldon, Amy realized how much he truly changed, all for the better. She hadn't given Sheldon much thought over the past few months, busy with her life, work, husband, and now the baby. But looking at Sheldon, slight stubble on his chin, gazing at the distant Rosemary, gave her pause, and she felt happy to see him adjusted, independent, not Leonard and Penny's overgrown child.

Amy snapped out of her thoughts to see Erik chatting with Jeremy on the boat, wondering how long she'd been sitting, unspeaking, next to Sheldon, knowing this occurred several times when they'd gone out. Strangely, it now felt a bit uncomfortable.

"So, did you ever end up watching The Flash?" she asked.

Sheldon looked at her, surprised. "No."

"It's actually pretty good," said Amy. "Khalid, one of the guys in our Gabon study, brought the DVDs of seasons one and two and we'd all watch an episode every night."

"Rosemary and I just began watching House of Cards," Sheldon said. "I think it will provide good material for future use in case Rosemary ever made a run for the White House."

Amy just smiled and nodded. Sheldon definitely needed someone like Rosemary, a mover and a shaker, not someone to wait around and cater to Sheldon, as Amy had done, embarrassingly when she'd been with him. Everything turned out much better, for both of them.

Later on, the two couples sat in Sheldon and Rosemary's favorite ice cream parlor, enjoying a treat before finishing the photo shoot at the comic shop and her museum. Sheldon remained quiet, as Rosemary, Erik, and Amy engaged in a lively conversation about Rosemary's work in the senate, his fiancé sharing stories about the interesting people she worked with in government. Sheldon took the opportunity to consider the next week, with a basketball game, late night meeting, and Rosemary busy in Olympia. Plus, he wanted to get his new web series started. Sheldon's brain swam with plans, but he came out of his thoughts when Rosemary's lovely laugh rang out.

"Yes, it certainly is a sideshow sometimes," she said. "And I've only been there a month." She took a bite of her cookies and cream ice cream and smiled at Amy. "So, have you had any weird cravings yet."

Amy shook her head. "No, not yet."

"Ha!" scoffed Erik. "I only work at Disney twice a week now, but she texts me on those days, asking me to pick up several of those Mickey Mouse lollipops." He laughed. "She never wanted them before, said they were gross, but now…"

Amy laughed with him. "I suppose that could be a craving. They are just so good. We'll need to name our child Mickey."

"Are you going to find out the sex?" Rosemary asked.

"Oh no," said Amy. "We want to be surprised." Her face then got serious and she turned to Erik. "Speaking of surprises, I returned the call we got from Jill."

"Oh?" he asked.

"National Geographic wants to fully fund other chimpanzee studies, two going on simultaneously in Gabon and Tanzania. They want Jill to lead the group in Tanzania," she paused, taking a deep breath. "And me to head the study in Gabon."

Erik practically leaped out of his seat. "Amy!" he cried. "I'm…I'm so proud of you." He turned to Sheldon and Rosemary, pointing to Amy. "Isn't she brilliant?"

But Sheldon could tell by the way Amy bit her lip that wasn't all.

"Both studies are longitudinal, taking place over five years, beginning next January," she said.

Sheldon saw Erik's mouth fall open, and he looked to see Rosemary with a concerned expression as well.

"What about the baby?" Erik asked.

"Jill knows, of course," Amy said, then turned to Rosemary and Sheldon. "She sent us a plush kangaroo last week." She then looked at Erik. "But National Geographic has that estate not far from the national park, and they're building more bungalows, promising a small house to us, even a nanny if we choose. And Honeybee can come, after we follow quarantine procedures." She started to talk fast, Sheldon sensing her excitement. "And…and you can work on your filmmaking. You said you wanted to do something about the return of the lions and…" Amy stopped.

Sheldon leaned in to hear more, Erik with a pensive look, Amy studying her husband. An intriguing conversation, worthy of those political dramas he was finding increasingly more entertaining. But he was suddenly pulled to his feet by Rosemary.

"Hey, Sheldon and I are going ahead to the comic book shop," she said. "See you in a couple of minutes."

And with that, Sheldon was whisked outside and down the street.

"Rosemary, things were getting interesting," he whined as they walked up the block. A light sprinkling of rain began to fall.

"They needed to be alone," she said, pulling the hood of her raincoat over her black sheet of hair. "That was a private conversation."

"Hmmm…" said Sheldon. "What would you want to do?"

Rosemary shrugged. "I don't know. Sounds amazing but, well, I'm not terribly interested in living in the middle of the jungle. The state senate is wild enough for me."

Sheldon put his arm around her and guided her into the shop, and the duo began browsing through the boxes of old comics near the front window. About five minutes passed before Erik and Amy joined them.

"What did you decide?" Sheldon immediately asked.

Amy laughed. "Nothing yet. We have a lot to discuss." She took Erik's hand. "Good topic for beach walks over the next few days."

Erik kissed the top of Amy's head and smiled. "We'll make sure you're the first to know, Sheldon," he said.

Sheldon sensed sarcasm in his voice, but Erik was always so subtle with it, he couldn't be sure.

"With this added to the baby and Raj's wedding and your wedding and the film premiering in August, it's going to be a busy couple of months," said Amy, fiddling with the stack of comics Sheldon placed out for purchase.

"Indeed," said Erik, then laughed and shrugged. "In the meantime, let's take some pictures, love birds."

Amy's comment about being busy could have applied to Rosemary and Sheldon's lives the following week. The couple barely saw one another, much to Sheldon's dismay. Rosemary worked late Monday at the museum, helping set up a new display, missing Sheldon's basketball game, and Tuesday Sheldon had a conference call with SpaceX colleagues in Singapore, needing to stay at work until 10 p.m. Wednesday, the bright-looking spot in the week, the couple both home by 5 p.m. brought a babysitting job for both him and Rosemary. An emergency at the port caused their neighbor Doug to work into the evening, and he called Sheldon in a panic, asking him to watch the girls, make sure they had dinner. Rosemary, Sheldon, Ivy, and Jasmine ate quickly before engaging in a Super Smash Brothers tournament lasting into the evening. That night, Sheldon and Rosemary fell immediately to sleep, Sheldon dreaming of video game tournaments with his own children.

Thursday Rosemary did not arrive home from Olympia, the Washington State capital, until late, exhausted from a day of talks on the salmon conservation bill. But now Friday was upon them, the weekend all theirs, and Sheldon sat at 8 p.m. playing video games with Leonard, Howard, and Raj, waiting for Rosemary to come home for an episode of Doctor Who followed by coitus.

"Everything is ready for the wedding, both my parents secured plane tickets," Raj told the group. "Flying separately of course but, well, I suppose I need to get used to that."

"Laura's parents still happy?" asked Howard.

"Oh yeah, and they seem to really like me," Raj said.

Sheldon's phone rang, and he excused himself from the group, removed his head set, and answered a bit apprehensively, seeing the call from Rosemary.

"Sheldon," came her voice, sounding strained. "Listen, I won't be home tonight. We need to come to a decision and some of the senators are not budging, so we're having a special session this weekend. They're putting me up in a hotel by the capital."

"But…Rosemary," Sheldon stammered. He'd counted on seeing Rosemary that evening, used the thought of her sitting next to him eating popcorn and commenting on the episode, the image of her naked body against his, to get him through the day. To have the actualization of those images suddenly snatched away seemed cruel. Then a thought occurred to him. "You don't have your toiletries, a change of clothes."

"I've actually kept a small bag in my car since starting in the senate," she said. "Chuck recommended it."

"But…but…you're only 30 miles away," he said. "Come home. Please, kitten."

Rosemary sighed. "I want to, but I need to go back in. I just stepped out of the session to call you. We're wrapping at eleven for the night and restarting at seven tomorrow morning." She sounded tired, but then her voice shifted to excitement. "One of the senators from the east tried to filibuster today. Was up there for three hours straight. It was, well, actually really cool. I've never seen that before."

"I miss you," he said, knowing he was being selfish, whining and all. He really was trying to work on that. But damn, he hadn't seen his Rosemary except in passing all week, and he already had coitus set in his brain.

"Call me at 11:45, okay?" she said quickly. "Gotta go back. I love you."

Then she was gone. Sheldon hung up and stared at the carpet. Then he realized he was still logged on with his friends, so he put on his headset and continued to play, silently listening to them talk about Raj's nuptials. After logging off at ten, Sheldon paced around the house before ending up in the kitchen, rearranging all the glasses and mugs in their cupboard by size.

Finally, at 11:15, Sheldon couldn't stand the quiet, the lack of Rosemary. Settling on a plan, he dashed upstairs.

Rosemary heard a distant clock strike midnight and looked up from her laptop, startled. She hadn't realized that much time passed. Even odder, Sheldon failed to call her at exactly 11:45. Then she smiled, imagining him on the sofa in front of the television, dozing away as Doctor Who played. She teased him when he did this before, telling him he was getting old, falling asleep in front of the television, and he retorted he needed to wake her up at least twice a week, having fallen asleep in front of the tv or her computer. Like so many things, Sheldon was correct.

Yawning, Rosemary felt exhausted but also exhilarated. While she did miss Sheldon, her week at the senate was everything she dreamed of, with the arguments over the salmon conservation bill. Rosemary first found herself on the sidelines of the debate, as the newbie, but quickly dived in, speaking about native rights as well as the ecology of the precious waterways of the state. By Friday morning, she realized she'd become one of the leading voices for the passing of the bill, being interviewed by three news outlets during her morning coffee break.

But the bill needed to pass this weekend, and her schedule would be a bit better the next week. She and Sheldon could continue wedding plans, perhaps talking with Sally at the bed and breakfast about food options. Thinking about turning in, she began to shut down her computer when her cell rang. Sheldon.

"Hi sweet man," she said brightly. "Fall asleep?"

"Rosemary, you are at the Holiday Inn on Second, correct?" came his formal tone without further introduction.


"What is your room number?"


"Thank you." And he was gone.

Rosemary shook her head. She loved Sheldon dearly, remembered falling for him hard over the Thanksgiving weekend they spent at Mt. St. Helens. His intelligence, awkward quirks, loving, dedicated heart. She couldn't wait to become his wife.

A knock at the door startled her, and she approached with caution, looking through the peephole.


Rosemary opened the door, a huge smile spreading across her face.

"Sheldon, you came down here! Oh, you wonderful…" but she never finished. Sheldon lunged into the room, threw his bag aside, grabbed her around the waist, and slammed the door, all simultaneously.

Overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of her fiancé, and one ready for action at that, Rosemary pulled away from his deep kiss as his hands slipped under the hem of her pajama pants to grasp her rear.

"Honey, you didn't need to come all the way here. I would have been back tomorrow afternoon, and we…" Rosemary lost her words as Sheldon sucked aggressively on her neck, one of his large hands sliding up her old university sweatshirt to grab her breast.

"No waiting," gasped Sheldon. "Too horny."

Rosemary giggled at him using the word horny, and she grabbed him by his jacket, leading him into the room, and began undressing him, unzipping his raincoat, pulling his shirts off over his head. He ripped her shirt off and pressed them together with his arms, Rosemary loving the feeling of their bare chests together.

"Oh Sheldon, you feel so good," she sighed. "Thank you for…"

But his mouth was back on hers, his hands working on sliding her pants down. He quickly kissed down her body as he did this, pausing when his face came in line with her panties. He pulled them down, kissing the top of her small patch of hair, the sight and feeling of him making her swoon slightly. This was an unexpected treat.

Sheldon stopped his movements and looked around her at the bed. "Would you like to clear the bed, Rosemary? Your tablet and several files are there, and in throwing you on it for some rather rough coitus, I would prefer your work not to be damaged."

Nodding and smiling, Rosemary turned and quickly moved things to the desk, spinning around to find a completely naked Sheldon standing at full attention, ready to go. Rosemary returned to stand in front of him, grabbing him around the neck and kissing him hard, standing on one foot to wrap a leg around him. Sheldon pulled up her other leg, supporting her completely, and fell with her onto the bed, working his way into her quickly with a grunt. Rosemary let out a deep, guttural groan. God, she did really need this.

"Oh kitten," he moaned into her ear as he thrust hard, the friction bringing her close to her peak. "I missed you so much. Your hair." He over his hands through her now thoroughly messed up hair. "Your laugh." He ran his fingers up her ribs, knowing her ticklish spot, making her giggle and then gasp as he pushed into her harder. "Your breasts." The fingers of his other hand pinched her nipples hard, starting to send her over the edge. "Your…tight…wet…oh, good Lord!" He cried out, Rosemary feeling him release into her, the stiffness rubbing her sensitive area, causing her to climax then as well.

They were loud about it, gasping and laughing with each thrust until Sheldon pulled out and fell beside her with a deep, satisfied sigh.

After a while of just breathing, lying shoulder to shoulder, Rosemary giggled. "I didn't know how much I needed that."

"Can I please stay the night?" Sheldon said. "I feel sleepy now, and I just want to hold you. I brought by pajamas, but I realize that I might be making some assumptions and I want to follow etiquette."

"You are my fiancé, not some booty call," Rosemary laughed. "But I think I will call on your booty again. It's a cute one."

"Booty call?" asked Sheldon, raising his eyebrow at her.

Jumping up, Rosemary put her clothes back on before shutting down her computer and turning in, exhausted, excited, and satisfied, now with her tall, warm, and horny physicist by her side.

The next morning, Sheldon awoke to find Rosemary completely dressed, finishing a cup of coffee, and packing her bag. He sat up with a start, thinking he slept late, but she put her hand on his shoulder and kissed him sweetly on the lips.

"Early morning for me," she said. "But you can check out when you're ready and…" A ding came from her laptop, seeming to be the last item she packed. "Oh, that might be the e-mail I'm waiting for from Senator Ludgate." She walked over, the screen lighting up her face. "Oh! It's from Erik! Some of our photos!"

She brought the laptop over and sat next to Sheldon, who was trying to pat his obnoxious morning hair down.

The first two photos were beautiful, the couple on the ship, the orcas behind them, Erik manipulating the colors slightly to bring out their faces.

"He says he'll send us all 200 photos…200!" read Rosemary. "But wanted us to have a preview."

"Open that one," said Sheldon, pointing to the file named "MyFavorite."

Both Sheldon and Rosemary gasped. The photo, taken from the outside of the comic shop through the front window, showed Sheldon and Rosemary at the comic book bins. Erik had faded the edges of the photo, bringing the eye to the couple, who looked at each other, Rosemary seeming to be in mid-sentence, Sheldon smiling down at her. Sheldon couldn't take his eyes off the image. They looked so perfect – that was him and Rosemary, in their natural habitat. Is this how the world saw him and his love?

"That's…that's us, Sheldon," Rosemary whispered. "He must have taken this when they returned to us from the ice cream parlor." A soft smile graced across her lips. "Sneaky."

Sheldon nodded and found himself looking, transfixed, at the photo, now the wallpaper on his phone, long after Rosemary slipped away.

Now on his wedding day, Sheldon said goodbye as Erik moved out the door, the ceremony 20 minutes away.

"Wait!" he cried, and Erik stopped.

Sheldon grabbed a pad of paper from the nightstand as well as a pen and scribbled a note, neatly folded it, and wrote "Rosemary" on the outside.

"Would you give this to her?" he asked, handing the note to Erik.

"Of course, man," he laughed. "Feel like I'm back in middle school, passing notes."

Erik left, leaving Sheldon once again alone to study himself in the mirror.

Author's Note: Welcome to my new story, which follows Sheldon and Rosemary throughout their engagement. While this tale is more episodic and a bit shorter than my previous stories, as always I promise romance (often M rated), adventure, humor, and a bit of angst. Updates will be irregular, as I am currently working on a longer Star Wars fic (please read!).

In the next chapter, Sheldon begins production on a new web series, experiencing creative differences with his co-host, mathematician Carson Silverthorne.

Special thanks to SwarklesFan55 for sharing the idea of orcas with me months ago. You are awesome!

Please follow/favorite/review. Take care, everyone!