Status: One-shot, complete
Summary: Leonard and Sheldon decide to spruce up their apartment.
Notes: As of this month, Cassandra Cassidy and I have been best friends for eight years. To commemorate our longstanding friendship, we did a fanfic exchange! This year she's really into The Big Bang Theory, so I wrote a little something for the television series. It's my first time for the fandom, yay! The story was edited by Keppiehed, who was kind enough to have this finished for me to present today.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Big Bang Theory; wish I did like everybody else. They should put TBBT in stock, then I'd buy it all!
Sheldon was on the brink of a revolutionary discovery involving commandeered hair ties, a can opener labeled 'experimental use only' and DVDs that hadn't burned properly when his roommate, Leonard, burst through the door. He was carrying a medium-sized brown package from Amazon.
"It came!" he shouted, holding up the cardboard box in a similar fashion to when Prince Adam's half of the legendary Power Sword was raised to transform him into his alter ego, He-Man.
"My God, the UPS package handlers took their sweet time about it," Sheldon was quick to remark. "What do you suppose happened? Did they get lost in their own prehistoric organization system?"
"At least now they use a computer database?" Leonard offered.
"Yes, if you can call their basic 'smart labels' and sorting methods up to snuff, which no sane or intelligent individual would."
"Look, Sheldon, do you want to get started on this or not?"
He paused in critical contemplation, and Leonard was close to reminding him of all the hours he had wasted devising a code from scratch. It would program his laptop to alert his cellphone of whenever their package made a milestone across the country, and finally Sheldon released a long suffering sigh.
"Fine, I'll get the aluminum stepladders, but I'm still displeased by the United Parcel Services' cataloging."
"No one said you had to like it," Leonard noted, and began to open the enclosed box to reveal another containing several glow-in-the-dark stars – eight-hundred, to be exact.
They intended on attaching the plastic pieces to the ceiling to freshen up the place – in style – since painting or wallpapering was out of the question. For some reason, the manufacturer hadn't deemed it appropriate to include charts of the night sky, so they'd opted to do some research.
Together Sheldon and Leonard, with the help of Raj, had calculated the exact placement of all the constellations during the Roman Empire. Raj had provided the most recent correlations involving stars, planets and other spatial matter and their current whereabouts. Plus, he threw in some data involving alignment patterns, number of black holes in the past one-thousand, eight-hundred and ten years and the use of some high-end equipment to finalize the calculations.
Sheldon had done the math by hand first when they received the data, quadruple-checking the results on his dry-erase board, while Leonard executed the experiments to confirm their hypotheses. At the end of it, they had what equated to be the most accurate star maps in history; it was perfect for home redecorating.
"Did you buy the pressure-sensitive adhesive?" Sheldon asked, carefully lugging the folding ladders out of their storage space. He set the first one up in the room according to surface level and distance from forceful drafts.
Leonard nodded and presented a small bag out of his jacket that had several cases of 'sticky tack'.
"And before you ask, yes, I remembered to bring the projector-"
His roommate paused in his work to give Leonard a shell-shocked expression, disgruntled that his practice of questioning preparations was interrupted in such a fashion. Leonard huffed and motioned for Sheldon to do the honors, folding his hands in front of him as he waited.
"And you remembered to bring the projector from your department at Caltech home with you?"
"Yes, Sheldon, I did. It's downstairs because it's rather heavy."
"Oh," he said, looking thoughtful, before shrugging and unfolding the second ladder. "What are you doing standing around telling me that when you could have carried it up the first flight of stairs already? Don't take too long."
Leonard stared for a beat, letting that sink in and trying to formulate a comeback, but in the end he decided that the effort to clarify the situation further and ask for help wasn't worth the aggravation. He trudged back down the stairs to the lobby where the modified laser projector still resided and lugged it up the steps, dragging it on the wheel cart when he could. The entire process took him several minutes, and by the time he reached his shared apartment, Sheldon had booted up his DS and started his fifth replay of Final Fantasy III. He was mumbling something about the old NES version when Leonard pushed the cart the last few feet and nearly collapsed.
"All right, here it is."
"Did you remember to grab the chips of converted star maps?" Sheldon asked, without ever looking up from the screen on his handheld.
When Leonard thought about it, he released a hiss of irritation as the images of the tiny filters that would go into the projector popped into his head. He realized that they were still sitting in the backseat of his car, and wordlessly backtracked to the parking lot to retrieve them.
"What would that boy do without me here to keep him in line, Arc?" Sheldon asked his game character. He didn't expect an answer, but that was all right since he already knew what the response would most likely be.
The slight squeaking of the ladder caused a twitch to enter Leonard's eye, not just because of the fact the noise was more grating than nails on a chalkboard, but because this was the sixteenth instance in which Sheldon's shifting had caused it. He tried in vain to ignore it and continued to place the glow-in-the-dark star pieces on the ceiling, but by squeak number twenty he'd had enough.
"What is it, Sheldon?"
"Oh, nothing," he said, coming off as lamenting rather than carefree.
"Okay…then could you possibly stop-"
"It's just, you're working on the constellation Andromeda, correct?"
"Yes," Leonard said slowly, already predicting that this exchange wasn't going to end well. He tried to derail the conversation altogether by forgoing asking 'why' and falling silent, but in the end Sheldon took that as an invitation to continue anyway.
"Well, consequently, she looks less like a princess and more like she belongs with the evening star, Venus. You should really move Mirach and Almach to remedy that."
A pause, and then Leonard asked, "Did you just call my rendition of Andromeda a whore?" He recalled that the goddess of sexual love, Aphrodite, was often related to the planet in Sheldon's reference, and quickly jumped to conclusions.
"What? Hardly! Andromeda's leg is just slightly out of alignment, about-"
Before his roommate could list off the exact measurements, Leonard interrupted him with, "Sheldon, it's fine, really! Look, I'm even using my micrometer to identify the exact midpoint of each star and accurately center it on the projected light spots."
He looked over at the other man and waved the metal measuring tool to indicate that it was in his possession, but Sheldon didn't look impressed, as he was hoarding his newest set of dial calipers, dial test indicator, steel ruler and assortment of computing devices at his disposal.
"Yes, I suppose you think that's cute," Sheldon said, dismissing Leonard's explanation with a sniff. The sound was recognized for what it was – he was thinking of changing the position of the stars himself, later, no doubt when Leonard was fast asleep and unaware-but-aware of such a plot being set afoot.
Leonard rolled his eyes and went back to work, receiving some further instruction on improvement from Sheldon as they went, but the both of them made surprising progress despite the verbal debates. When they were finished, they shut off the projector, turned on every light in the room, proceeded to sit in their respective seats – Sheldon in his favorite spot on the sofa and Leonard in the nearby chair – and tilted their heads back at an almost ninety-degree angle to behold their handy-work.
"How long did we determine it takes for the glow-in-the-dark stars to store enough photons to photo-luminescent at full capacity again?" Leonard asked, still staring up at the ceiling.
"The phosphorescence should take up to a couple hours."
For a long time, neither one of them moved.
It was nighttime outside, but the curtains had to be drawn to block out the city lights, and all luminaries were shut off to pitch the living room into total darkness. Leonard had moved to lie across the rest of the sofa on the two cushions that Sheldon hadn't claimed and stared up at the replica of the night sky he and his roommate had created.
"We did well, buddy," he told Sheldon, already wondering if he could improve upon their finished product by adding comets during certain intervals. If they wanted, they could also change their setup to mimic the passage of time, possibly once a year, which would equal twenty or so in ceiling light-years.
"Yes. If I do say so, I think I really outdid myself this time," Sheldon agreed, also considering future alterations, though his involved fixing the numerous errors he continued to see in Leonard's star placements.
They lapsed into silence, admiring the different patterns, until suddenly their entry door burst open and permitted the hallway light to pour in. Leonard yelped and tried to cover his eyes, but his glasses got in the way of his hands, and in his scrambling he ended up rolling off the couch face first. Sheldon released a hiss akin to Gollum from Lord of the Rings and scrunched up into the corner of the sofa, trying to escape the brightness.
Penny stared at the two men, her blank expression and slow blinks telling of her thoughts on their antics.
"Yeah, okay, so did you guys blow out your power, or something? 'Cause Sheldon over there looks like he's suffering from Xbox and Halo withdrawals."
"No, Penny," Leonard said into the rug, lifting his head to spit out some fibers that had attached themselves to his tongue. "We did some updating."
He pointed upwards, and Penny followed his finger to look at the ceiling.
"Oh! That's so pretty. I used to have those back in my old room."
"Was there a reason for you to invade the sanctity of our Bat Cave?" Sheldon asked, having recovered from his shock.
"Yeah, I ran out of some ingredients for cupcakes and was wondering if I could borrow them from you guys?"
"Borrow? I sorely hope not, because it'll be difficult to return them once they've been added to your mixture, baked and thoroughly digested! I think you mean commandeer, Penny."
"…Sure, Penny, help yourself to the kitchen," Leonard said, him and their neighbor both ignoring Sheldon.
"Thanks! You two are the best," she declared, and headed straight for the fridge and cabinets, grabbing everything needed for the desserts save for eggs. She had those already, at least. "Seriously, this saves me a lot of time. My friends will be here shortly and…"
Penny trailed off when she turned around and saw that they had returned to their previous positions and were gazing up at the ceiling again, having forgotten that she was even there.
"…And we were thinking about covering ourselves in the frosting and licking it off each other."
Neither gentleman responded.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," she said to herself, not as exasperated she thought she rightly should be, and quietly left them to their business. Five seconds later, the hairs on the back of Leonard's neck tingled, as if trying to warn him of something important going amiss, but he shrugged it off and concentrated on the Pisces and Taurus star clusters.