Leonard watched Sheldon become increasingly upset when weeks into their stay at the Pole showed no positive results for his research. He knew that Sheldon didn't admit defeat easily. So instead of doing so he acted out, his annoying quirky habits became even more annoying, frequent and quirky than usual. This increase had Howard and Raj on their way to committing a homicide, for the benefit of mankind they said; at least for the benefit of the men currently isolated at the top of the world. It wasn't their homicidal threats that forced Leonard to deceive Sheldon, because trust to Sheldon, although not a value when it came towards any human that Sheldon had ever met, was valued over all other traits when it came to his friends.
What forced Leonard into deceiving Sheldon was the night that the heat went out. Now, being at the North Pole it wasn't actually night, there was no night at the North Pole in the summer. There wasn't even a time zone in which Sheldon could dictate what time night should be, in fact because of that Sheldon insisted that they go to sleep exactly one hour later than the night before. It was because of this extra hour that they even noticed that the heat went out in the first place. They had gone to bed at the same time every day, they would have been well into REM sleep, and may not have noticed the drop in temperature before hypothermia had already set in. No one mentioned the fact that Sheldon had probably saved at least some of if not all of their lives. They were too uncomfortable with the fact, or at least they were pretending to be too uncomfortable with the fact, that they would be forced to sleep together, naked, in order to stay alive.
Even Sheldon, who insisted that it was completely appropriate considering the circumstances, had only stripped confidently down to his underwear. He hesitated there, one look at his still clothed colleagues and he had his arms covering his chest.
"I think Sheldon's right. We're all adults here. If it takes one night sleeping together to save our lives I vote that we do it," Leonard said, his chin in the air trying to be reassuring even though he wasn't reassured.
"I don't understand why someone can't just go outside and fix the heater. It's not actually night." Raj had his arms around him too the warm air, which lingered from when the heater was working, was already starting to chill.
"Can't," Sheldon said. "We already determined there is a storm outside. That's why we made sure that there would be enough provisions to get us through the next three weeks. It's unlikely that the person sent out would come back, and who's to say he could locate the generator once he's out there."
"Well, that is a problem," Howard said rocking on his feet. He clapped his hands together. "That's why I think that you should be the one to go out there and fix the generator."
Sheldon looked startled. He turned to Leonard, and opened his mouth, but Leonard cut him off. "He's kidding. Come on guys lets just do this." He started to unbutton his flannel shirt. This encouraged the other guys and they started to do the same. "Sheldon why don't you get the thermal blankets together and I'll help you with the mattresses when I'm done."
"Good idea. No need for us to sleep on the floor, plus the mattress fibers should keep in heat better then the wood floors," Sheldon agreed, forgetting about Howard's remark and getting to work.
"We could have gotten rid of Sheldon easy peasy, right there," Howard said his voice lowered so Sheldon couldn't hear him.
Leonard rolled his eyes. "I know you don't want to do that. Right now it might look like a good idea but when Sheldon becomes a hero for sacrificing his life to possibly save yours, you'll feel differently."
Howard paused to think about that. He exchanged a look with Raj. "Nah I don't I will." Raj nodded in agreement.
Leonard pulled his pants off and folded them before placing them on the couch. "Okay so you'll feel bad when his frozen dead body is buried in the ground and all because the two of you couldn't be mature and reasonable."
There was another look between the two mutinous cohorts. Then they both shrugged and nodded. "It's possible," Raj answered for the both of them. "I'm not saying that I would feel bad, but I could."
"You better figure out a different solution and fast, because that possibility is reaching infinity and about to become a zero," Howard said his clothes tossed haphazardly on the chair. He knew it would make Sheldon uncomfortable and he thought of it as payback.
Leonard didn't try to defend his actions anymore; at least he had saved Sheldon that day. Sheldon returned with the Stanford issued thermal blankets. He placed them on the floor where the coffee table had once been, it had been moved to make room for them to sleep together.
"So the mattresses?" Leonard asked the silence that fell when Sheldon returned made him nervous.
"I'm thinking, we should have got the mattresses ready before we took off all our clothes." Raj pointed out earning three glares for an observation made too late.
One good thing about being stuck at the top of the world the mattresses provided were thin and light, only providing the minimal distance between the person laying on it and the hard cots that were kept there year around. It was normally a great annoyance to all four of them, but considering their combined upper body strength, no one complained about them that night.
Sheldon and Leonard set them up in the center of the living room. Howard watched. He was trying to stall off laying down with three other men, friends or not, life depending or not. Raj gathered the pillows.
"So who has to sleep in the middle?" Howard asked once everything was set up and the four of them were standing over the bed.
"The persons sleeping in the middle should consider themselves lucky. They will no doubt have an advantage over the two people on the end, considering that they will be able to share the body heat of the person on either side of them," Sheldon explained, but he didn't volunteer for the position.
"I'll take my chances," Howard said.
"We could rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock for the position," Raj suggested.
"No, that wouldn't work. Everyone always picks Spock. Besides would the winner get to be in the middle or on the end?" Leonard asked.
"I think the winners would get to choose where he slept and the others two would just have to deal with the other positions," Howard suggested.
"Okay but let's draw straws," Leonard suggested. Just as everyone was agreeing to the straws, a burst of cold air sent all four diving under the blankets without thought to where they were or who they were sleeping next to. They ended up with Howard and Leonard on the ends with Raj and Sheldon in the middle, Sheldon was between Leonard and Raj. Leonard thought it worked perfectly. Howard wanted to be on an end the most, and Sheldon logically wanted to be in the place that would increase his chance of survival, sleeping between Raj and Howard would not be that place. "Okay well this works."
There was silence. Then Sheldon said, "I think we forgot something."
"No, Sheldon. We're under the thermal blankets together; it wouldn't matter if we leave our underwear on." Leonard had his back to him, but he didn't have to look at him to know what he was thinking.
"How about I put it in terms you three can understand. Lose the underwear and live to find evidence of stringy theory that will ensure our place for the Nobel Prize. Or have our bodies found frozen together come the end of the summer." When he stopped talking he began wrestling around under the thermal blankets to remove his undergarments.
"What makes you think that we will find evidence tomorrow if we haven't yet today?" Raj asked. He was also facing away from Sheldon.
Sheldon's eye twitched. He opened his mouth to speak, but Leonard interrupted him. "You know what, maybe keeping our underwear on, or off won't matter to our lives, but some things in that area could be damaged irrevocably."
Howard stood up from his end of the bed and pulled his boxers down throwing them to the side. He returned to his spot in the bed. Raj's eyes were wide. "What?"
"You could have waited until I turned around." Raj insisted.
"I really don't see how that matters, after tonight." Howard said. He nodded to Raj. "Go on, it's your turn."
"Oh now we're taking turns." Sheldon had his underwear was partly down his thigh. "I really think I should go second."
"We're going in order of sleeping arrangements." Howard insisted. He nodded to Raj. There was no sound from Sheldon, so he either agreed or was trying to figure out what social protocol this feel under.
Raj took of his boxers. A pair that his parents had sent him to make sure that he would give them grandchild, if he ever got married. "Okay your turn Sheldon."
"Hold on," Sheldon said. He was still going through the information he had on social situations. He never recalled hearing about taking turns when friends had to strip down naked and sleep together in order to survive. "Leonard?"
"Just go!" Leonard ordered. He would have to go over Sheldon's instruction manual with Howard later.
Sheldon finished taking off his briefs. He folded them carefully and reached to put them on the chair by the computer. "Okay your turn."
Leonard sighed and took his off. He pushed them out from under the thermal blankets with his foot. "Can we all go to sleep now?" There was no reply from Raj or Howard. Leonard turned and looked over at them.
"You're letting in air." Sheldon hissed. He was aware that the other two were asleep. He rolled over on his side facing Leonard. "Normally I would refuse to sleep on my side, because of the back problems that it would give me in the morning, but I was think that I can keep more of my surface area warmer if I lay this way. And…"
"Sheldon, are you asking to spoon?" Leonard asked. Once again he didn't have to turn around and look at Sheldon.
"No I don't want a spoon. Why would I want a spoon that's absurd?"
"No, Sheldon…" Leonard sighed. He reached behind him and grabbed Sheldon's arm putting it around his waist. He scooted back. "Spoon."
"Oh. Wow. Some days I really do learn something new."
Sheldon's breath tickled the back of Leonard's neck. Leonard stiffened. He had spooned with Sheldon to show him what he meant when he said spoon. Now he was well aware of their positions it made him nervous.
"This works," Sheldon sounded pleased. Leonard felt his pillow dip slightly in Sheldon's direction. That's how close he was.
Eventually Leonard did fall asleep; he had to, because he woke up to Sheldon hissing in his ear. "Psst Leonard, psst Leonard, psst Leonard."
"Oh did I wake you?"
"Yes, Sheldon. It is 'night'."
"Oh well, it can wait then." Sheldon sighed. His breath hit Leonard's ear.
Leonard sighed too turning around. It was a bad move because they were so close. He stiffened when his cock pressed up against Sheldon's stomach. It was partially hard. Sheldon didn't seem to notice. "What is it?"
Sheldon looked away, it was difficult with being that close. He had to stare at Leonard's lack of chest hair. He took a long time to reply. Leonard even started to relax. "Do you think this trip is a failure?"
Leonard sighed. He knew that Sheldon hated to be proved wrong. Leonard wasn't a psychiatrist, but he thought it had to do with Sheldon's childhood. He wasn't prepared for the hitch of breath from his roommate. He looked up at Sheldon. He was still looking away. He wasn't crying, but he was visibly upset. "I don't think it's a failure."
"Of course you would say that. It wasn't your theory."
"I helped with the math." Leonard reminded, his help had direct effects on their chance to come to the North Pole in the first place.
Sheldon nodded his head. "You did do that." A small smile found its way on his face.
"Is that a smile I see?" Leonard poked his cheek with his finger. "Don't smile. Don't you dare smile."
Sheldon's smile grew not even Sheldon was immune to that trick. "Stop that. It doesn't make me feel better about our results."
He put his arm down laying it over Sheldon's side he rubbed his back. "You shouldn't worry so much. So what if our results find nothing. We'll go back and look at our theory again and see how we can modify it."
"I like to think of my self as an optimist, but it's highly unlike that we will get an opportunity to do a field study at the North Pole again." Sheldon looked more upset than a few minutes ago.
"Hey if we get no results, have to modify our experiment and then are denied a chance to test our experiment in the field, I will personally see to it that a second cabin at the North Pole is constructed solely for our purposes," Leonard said even though he knew he couldn't perform most, if any, manual labor.
"I stand corrected, you are the optimist." It didn't matter what Sheldon said though. He was smiling. Leonard smiled proud of himself.
"Can we go back to sleep now?"
Sheldon nodded. Leonard shifted in order to turn around, but stopped. It couldn't be. "Uh…Sheldon?"
"What?" Sheldon opened his eyes.
"Nevermind." Even if it was, Sheldon wasn't even aware of it. He would ignore it like Sheldon was.
"What?" Leonard asked looking up at him.
"You're staring at my groin so I came to the conclusion that you were asking about that."
Leonard's cheeks flared. "I wasn't staring. I was just surprised."
"I don't why. You've been making physical advances to me since the conversation began. While most of the time I can avoid situations like this, my body is still human and the physical stimulation as well as my emotional response to your reassurance has made this incident nearly unavoidable."
"Oh." It was hard to argue with Sheldon when he spoke like that, especially when Leonard was flustered. "Well what do you think we should do about it?"
"Do about it? What sort of question is that? I am not a male looking to satisfy my instinctual need to reproduce. Not that reproduction would really matter considering that I'm currently at the North Pole with…" His speech was cut off, the ranting was getting louder and even if Howard and Raj wouldn't wake up, Leonard just wanted to shut him up. When Leonard pulled away, Sheldon looked completely shocked. Leonard like to picture in Sheldon's mind, a little librarian Sheldon going through and old fashion card catalog trying to locate any and all information on kissing and when it was and was not socially acceptable. Leonard smiled. He knew that librarian Sheldon had probably filed that card in the recyclable a long time ago. "Leonard?"
Leonard grinned. He leaned up and kissed Sheldon again. This time it was more because he wanted to see how far he could take this. Sheldon didn't push him away like he expected he would. He lay stiff and uncomfortable though. Leonard pulled away and sighed. He knew he could turn around and pretend to sleep. Sheldon would analyze the situation maybe even do research on it, but he wouldn't say anything about it. Even if he realized later that he wanted to kiss back, he would never initiate a kiss with him in the future. Sheldon wouldn't know the protocol on being the kisser, without practical application Sheldon wouldn't ever be confident of his knowledge to initiate a kiss. Instead Leonard whispered, "You need to kiss back."
Sheldon twitched. "How can I do that? I don't even know what's going on."
"It's just kissing."
"It is not just kissing. I think this is highly unusually isn't it?"
"For us or in general?"
"For us," Sheldon said. "I've read the research on sexuality, Leonard. I know the statistics for in general."
"We have never kissed. So I'd say it's highly unusually."
"We didn't kiss. You kissed me." Sheldon reminded leaning his head a little closer so that his whispering was louder in Leonard's ear.
Leonard stared at Sheldon he waiting for him to figure it out. Leonard sighed, when Sheldon didn't respond. He pat Sheldon's chest and turned over. He was Sheldon flush against him and Sheldon's erection was pressed against his hip.
"I upset you." Sheldon whispered in Leonard's ear. Sheldon's hand ran over his hip and took hold of Leonard's erection. His hand was dry but he rubbed Leonard's erection with a skill that only came from intensive study and little practical application.
"Sheldon." Leonard arched his back pressing his head against Sheldon's shoulder he looked back at him. Sheldon's eyes were dark and concentrated. He was doing everything in his power to make Leonard happy. Leonard pressed his hips back against Sheldon's erection, only wanting to return the favor. Sheldon's hand stilled. "Sheldon don't."
"It's weird. I don't like it."
"You will. Come on." Leonard put his hand over Sheldon's guiding him over his erection. Sheldon didn't complain about that, but his hand flinched in Leonard's when he pressed back him again. He could feel Sheldon's shoulders stiffen every time he pushed it back. "Come on, come on."
"I don't like it."
Leonard wouldn't hear it. He couldn't justify getting off and leaving Sheldon hard pressed against his back for the rest of the night. He ground his hips against Sheldon's. He pulled at his butt cheek until Sheldon's erection was nestled between his crack. He couldn't go any further. He knew that Sheldon would never even passively allow that.
"I don't like it, Leonard," He said but his voice was deep and throaty. There was a moan somewhere in it. "Feels weird. It's weird."
"ShhSheldon, Sheldon." Leonard felt something wet and sticky run in his crack. He let go of Sheldon's hand. Sheldon let it fall to the cot mattress.
"I'm good." Leonard moved his head back to his pillow.
"I knew the cocktail of brain chemicals released would cheer you up." Leonard could see Sheldon's smug grin without looking. He didn't turn around to look. He didn't questions Sheldon's reasoning. He knew that Sheldon needed to accept what they did on his terms and whatever delusion he chose to believe until then was okay with Leonard. What was important was that Sheldon had allowed himself to become uncomfortable, sticky and empathetic. All to the reasoning that he didn't want Leonard to be upset. If Sheldon could do all those things to make Leonard happy then, Leonard could do far more to make Sheldon happy. He would bring out the can opener after the heater was fixed and show it to Howard and Raj.