One seeks comfort in places they know will give it to them. People go to places where they know what they are running from will not be able to reach them. Some go to a location, such as a library or park. Home is a prime example. People go home for the memories of their mother comforting them when they were sick or sad. Some go home to be in the arms of a person they know will not ask questions, just provide soothing words and actions.
Sheldon had been homesick for over a year when he had left Texas for good. California just wasn't the same. This was before Skype and other similar forms of communication. This meant going days without talking to anyone he knew back home. He had started to forget things about some people. He had started to forget the way his mother laughed, the way his father's voice used to boom.
But, some things one just does not forget. The smell of your first lover's perfume, the way their limbs tangled around yours, how safe you felt when they would smile. Those were the things a nineteen year old Sheldon Cooper held onto his first months in California. (Note- I'm guessing this is when Cal-Tech offered him his current position. Creative license. In case you're wondering about Germany, well when Sheldon was in Germany, his mother had been given a special phone allowance to call him every day as he was a minor.)
There had never been any other options. When Sheldon had come up with the idea of running away, home had been his only thought. He needed the comfort of his mother and home. An underlying thought had been of seeking other forms of comfort. Sometimes one needed physical comfort rather than find it with their mother or in home cooking. It had never occurred to him that things had changed between them. He had thought everything would be the same.
For once, Sheldon Cooper was wrong.
It was much hotter in Texas than it was Pasadena. Sheldon should have remembered that, but for some odd reason, it had escaped him. The airport was crowded, but that he had expected. When he exited the airport, he saw his mother waiting for him by the car, holding a sign with his name on it. She hated airports, had ever since she had been asked to leave for evangelizing while waiting for a flight when Sheldon was eight.
When he saw his mother, Sheldon flashed back to that long-ago afternoon when it all started. Maybe this meant something. He didn't believe in signs and the like. There was no science to fate. But maybe he should try and reconcile with her. After all, it had been two years since they had seen each other. They had run into each other at his father's funeral two years ago. Unlike everyone else in attendance, Sheldon hadn't cried. It wasn't that he hadn't wanted to; he just couldn't bring himself to do it in front of everyone. He had done that in private, before and after the service.
As they neared his house, Sheldon could see hers from his window. Nothing had changed. The porch swing was still there (rocking back and forth, limbs tangling, grabbing shoulders to keep her on the swing) as was the tree-house her brother had begged for and abandoned (making curtains that fluttered in the breeze, throwing his shirt onto a branch, low laughter).
"Is Amy home for the summer?" he asked as they walked up to the house. "I thought I would go over and say hello."
Mary Cooper resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She had known everything about Sheldon's life when he was a teenager and that meant the 'relationship' with the neighbor girl. She wasn't blind.
"Yes, she's next door visiting her mama. I always thought you and her would make a cute couple. I'm not getting any younger Shelly. I want grand-babies."
Sheldon tuned out the rest of his mother's rant about the wonders of grandchildren and thought of how to approach her.
They had met the summer Sheldon returned from Germany. While in Germany, Sheldon had grown to over six feet tall. His brain had yet to adjust to his new height and he was constantly tripping over his feet, swinging his arms too far and he hated it. It had made him very shy. It didn't help that his hormones were finally kicking in. His last few weeks in Germany, he had started to notice the pretty young women in his class and pretty much everywhere else. But it didn't bother him too much. He thought himself above the primitive behaviors sexual feelings brought.
Again, he was wrong. After all, despite was people believed, Sheldon was and is human. That summer, he experienced a series of firsts that had nothing to do with academia. There had been no planning, no outlines of every possible outcome. He had just done what his instinct told him to do for the first time in his life.
And he had enjoyed it.
When he had finally arrived home, there was a girl about his age sitting on the porch of his house with Missy. They were reading magazines and chattering. As he drew closer, Sheldon braced himself for the usual inanity he had come to expect from adolescent girls.
"I liked Tim Burton's Batman films. The bleakness is the appeal," the girl on the porch muttered as she flipped past an article on leopard print clothing. Her strawberry blond hair obscured most of her face, and she wore plain clothing, jeans and a blue tank top. The way her fingers danced over an article on seven self-defense moves put Sheldon into a reverie until a rude 'Earth to Shelly' from Missy brought him back.
"Oh, this is the infamous Sheldon," the girl on the porch smiled wryly, and brushed her hair from her eyes.
"This is our next-door neighbor, Amy Derris," Missy said and she caught that flicker in both their eyes when their gazes met. That was when she was sure her brother was 'right in the head' as their mother put it.
When Sheldon got home, he went straight into the apartment and sat on his spot on the couch. He didn't say anything to Penny or even look at her. He just sat in his spot and stared at nothing. The others had no idea what was going on.
"All we know was that when he came home, he decided to go with us, no protests or anything. Sure we were worried, but we didn't ask any questions," Leonard said.
"He looks devastated. Like his heart is broken," Penny murmured. "I'll try and talk to him."
"Good luck," Leonard called as she went in the apartment. Penny sat next to the immobile Sheldon. He turned to stare at her mutely.
"Honey, are you okay?" she asked.
"No," his voice was sad, almost human. "I have no job, I'm a laughing stock at the university, and I missed Comic-Con and the Star Trek movie. To top it all off, Amy is getting married to a complete idiot. I really don't know why all this is happening."
"Who's Amy?" Penny asked, although she dreaded the answer.
"A woman that I believed loved me because I felt the same."