Amy was an invited lecturer at a prestigious neurobiology conference taking place in early January, but she didn't care. The academic accolades she'd aspired to all through college and grad school were nice, but they weren't as important as they used to be. She had Sheldon and he was enough for her. Or so she had let herself believe.
They were in the waiting room of the university's clinic, waiting for their flu shots (which were free to faculty). Sheldon's nervousness had rendered him uncharacteristically introspective and mute, and Amy found him quite cute in this state. His lips quirked, his cheeks puckered, and his eyes were so wide she'd fall into them if she stared too long.
Sheldon was called back first. He stood bravely, took a deep breath, and followed the nurse. Then he paused when he got to the door and looked back at her. "Come on," he said, his expression tinged with a dash of impatience that came when she didn't behave as predictably as a robot.
"Why?" Amy asked, complying, but confused.
"Flu shot. You have to hold my hand. It's in the relationship agreement," he explained simply.
Amy twitched in surprise. She'd forgotten—or rather repressed the information. When she'd first read through the relationship agreement, she'd been looking forward to flu shots because it meant she could hold Sheldon's hand. But since they'd agreed to non-physical expressions of affection, she'd tamed her desires by consciously eliminating avenues of physical contact that gave her false hope. "It's not optional?" she asked.
"No. I require moral support and Leonard isn't here," Sheldon deadpanned. He held out his hand, sternly summoning her to his side.
Amy looked nervously at his outstretched hand, worried that one touch would undo all her efforts to become the asexual partner he needed her to be—like a dieter smelling cheesecake. "Would you be willing to substitute verbal encouragement?"
Sheldon thought for a second then offered his hand again, more emphatically this time. "No. I want you to hold my hand."
The fact that he said 'I want you' broke her will. She craved those words and she was powerless against his charm. Following him into the back room, she stood next to him while he lay down on the bed. (Despite the simplicity of the flu shot, Sheldon insisted on lying down.) He took her hand and looked her in the eye, gazing lovingly at her in a way she'd come to adore. His touch made her tingly, but more than that, it made her sad. When it was her turn to receive a flu shot, she sat on the bed and he reached for her hand.
"I don't need it," she said, folding her hands in her lap, avoiding eye contact with him as the doctor gave her the shot.
Sheldon pouted in frustration, but he stayed respectfully out of the way.
"You were very brave and I respect your courage," he said afterward, as he walked her back to her lab. Casually, he slipped his hand into hers, but she pulled away and crossed her arms. "Is something wrong?"
"We need to update our policy on hand holding," she said, her voice deep with regret. "I can't hold your hand one day out of the year. It upsets my ability to control my physical lust."
"You know you can take my hand whenever you need," Sheldon said gently and earnestly, his face clouding with emotion. "So long as I'm not writing, or on the computer, or playing Halo, or sharpening my batarang."
"You're not Batman," Amy said snippily.
"I could be Batman."
Chuckling softly, Amy ducked her head, resisting the urge to hug him or hold his hand. It would only lead to more desires that would remain unfulfilled. "I love you," she said, but even those words were starting to lose their power.
It was two days before the conference and the gang was giving Amy a big send-off. She had a gang! Amy was so excited that she had friends and she trusted them to throw her a party without trying any hurtful pranks. Sheldon was baking her brownies—Duncan Hynes fudge walnut. He didn't use the oven much, but he seemed to like baking things for her, and she got a kick out of that. She squirmed uncomfortably as he bent over to pull the brownie pan out of the oven. For the most part, she had her physiological responses under control, but when he wore those tight corduroys, it was damn hard not to look. She wondered if he minded that she looked—wondered if he put on the show intentionally.
"I bought you a gift," Sheldon said, letting the brownies on the cooling rack, then leaning on the kitchen island across from her and gazing into her eyes. He looked at her an awful lot, studying every facet of her appearance. Sometimes he asked her to make different expressions so he could practice recognizing them. She'd learned that the right low-cut top could make his eyes wander toward her breasts, but then he'd get embarrassed and stop gazing at her. She much preferred him staring unabashedly at her face than awkwardly avoiding her cleavage.
"A gift? It's not my birthday," Amy said, surprised.
"It's the social protocol for the boyfriend to dote on the girlfriend with unsolicited gifts," Sheldon explained, handing her a bag. Excited, Amy pushed aside the tissue paper and peeked inside. It felt heavy and the batteries that tumbled to the bottom of the bag told her that it was something electronic. She couldn't figure out what it was by looking, and when she lifted it out, she froze.
A sex toy?
"It's to help satiate your physical lust," Sheldon said quickly. "Raj tells me that the women of Sex in the City say the jackrabbit is the highest recommended pleasure device for women. It's a combination vibrator and dildo."
"I—" Amy stammered, her face turning as red as her mother's did when she told her mom she had a boyfriend. When Amy had first worked to control her physical desires, she had shopped for sex toys, but it felt like cheating. She should have known that Sheldon wouldn't hold it against her.
"I opted for rechargeable batteries, the ones I gave you are pre-charged. And there's a lubricant," Sheldon said, smiling and reaching into the bag, pulling out a bottle with clear liquid and a purple top. "Astroglide. It sounded sciency. I tested it and it is very slick."
"I don't know what to say," Amy said, still holding the bright blue jackrabbit in her hands, stunned beyond the capacity for rational thought.
"I didn't want you to have to pay for decent pornography, so I included a flash drive with pictures of myself in various poses."
"Nude?" Amy asked, suddenly intrigued.
"No. Would you prefer nude shots?" Sheldon asked, his expression open and helpful, like it didn't even occur to him that there was a difference between clothed and nude photographs.
Amy's throat tightened and she felt her panties getting wet. She dropped everything back in the bag, save the bright blue flash drive that matched the bright blue dildo. "Sheldon, did it ever occur to you that this would heighten my physical lust rather than satiate it?"
"Hmm," Sheldon said, frowning in frustration, plucking the flash drive from her fingers. "Perhaps I can send it back for a refund."
"No. No, it's my gift," Amy said, hugging the gift bag and taking the flash drive, tucking it in with the rest. "If I don't want it, I can exchange it on my own."
"I want you to have what you need—to be able to hold my hand without being overcome by sexual frustration," Sheldon said sincerely. "I thought this would help."
"Can I hold your hand tonight?" Amy asked. She needed him to do something or she'd never make it through the party.
"That would make it difficult to eat," Sheldon pointed out rationally.
"After we eat."
"I would like that," Sheldon said, smiling sweetly. He squeezed her hand and gave her a kiss on the cheek. The unexpected contact made her face flush. In her head, she was already using the vibrator.
When Amy first tried the jackrabbit, she was a little disappointed. Her body was too tight to fit the dildo and the batteries on the vibrator died too quickly. She'd substituted the pictures of Sheldon with free porn from the internet because then she could hear the pleasured sounds of sex and watch hunky men's bodies get hard. She had her first orgasm at the conference hotel after a long night of Skyping with Sheldon and fifteen minutes of porn. She realized sadly that she didn't miss Sheldon any more when she was away than when she was with him. Now that her confidence had been buoyed by having him in her life, every man at the conference was a temptation to her. Maybe she could hook up with one of them. Sheldon would never know.
The night she came home to California, Sheldon came over to welcome her back. She'd asked him to give her an hour to shower, and she'd spent thirty of those minutes masturbating. She could finally get aroused enough to accommodate the dildo, and she'd come screaming with pleasure. Her body was still buzzing when Sheldon arrived. With every step, she felt tingles and fire in her thighs, and she just wanted him to leave so she could give herself another orgasm.
"Sheldon, we need to break up," Amy said abruptly, as soon as he sat on the couch.
"Why?" Sheldon asked, his eyes getting wide and moony.
"I have come to realize that I am a sexual being. I cannot be in a relationship with an asexual man," Amy said quickly. She had to do this quickly or she'd succumb to his adorable face.
"But I love you," Sheldon pouted. He sat perfectly still, hands clasped in his lap, trying desperately to hold on to his composure.
"I'm sorry," Amy said, feeling her resolve waiver and the last tingles of her orgasm vanish. She used to get aroused when he said those words. "Those words have lost their potency because they haven't been supported by action."
"I give you my time, my attention, my food," Sheldon said desperately. "If you truly require physical intimacy, I will give it to you. Please, I don't want to go. I will do anything."
"It's not enough," Amy said, her chin quivering, her eyes filling with tears. She kept flashing back to those words he'd said months ago—that he'd whore his body to keep her in his life. Whore? "I want you to want me."
"I do want you," Sheldon insisted. "I want you in every aspect of my life. I want to hear your voice every day. I want to look into your eyes while you tell me about things I could care less about. I want to comfort you when you're sad and support you when you need encouragement. I want you to be there when I wake up in the morning and when I fall asleep at night. I want to be with you for the rest of my life."
"But you don't want to touch me."
Amy waited, but Sheldon stayed quiet, his shoulders hunching as he realized he'd failed her most important test. Her chest ached and a tear rolled down her cheek. She pointed to the door, then turned back to her bedroom.
"Wait!" Sheldon cried desperately, charging after her. She turned sharply and he got shy again, staring at his feet. He rubbed his belly like it ached. "Once, I masturbated in the shower while thinking of you. I only did it once, because I felt like I was taking advantage of you, doing it without you knowing."
Amy shuddered and took in a deep breath, willing to explore the information even if she didn't see the relevance. "Do you masturbate often?"
"Every other month," he said shyly, squirming and looking at the wall. "It's important to keep the pipes clean in order to avoid messy nocturnal emissions. I was planning to masturbate the day after tomorrow, if you—if that's—Do you want to help?"
Amy's jaw dropped at the invitation as she weighed the offer. "It's not enough."
"Please don't leave me," he begged, closing the distance between them, hugging her, clinging to her. "I want you. I do want you. We can find a way, I promise."
Two days later, Amy found herself lying on her bed, waiting for the batteries in her vibrator to recharge. Sheldon lay next to her and they were both naked from the waist down. He'd manipulated the toy and she'd orgasmed twice, but Sheldon was so nervous he couldn't even get hard.
"Are you sure you want to keep trying? We've been at it for two hours," Amy said, peaking a knee and fanning it sideways. She was a hot, wet mess. Sheldon could get her coming harder and screaming louder than she'd ever done on her own, simply because he didn't stop moving when she started cresting. It was strange and hot, and he was always gazing at her with his adoring eyes, though never with lust.
"I promised you an erection," Sheldon said, his hands cupped protectively over his limp dick. Amy figured he was probably cold.
"Have you felt any sexual stimulation at all since we started?"
"Yes. But then I imagine my semen spilling on your hand, and the mess just…" Sheldon trailed off and shivered.
"You could apply a condom to catch the mess," Amy said helpfully, rolling over and propping herself on her elbows. "Penny leant me some; they're in the bathroom."
"I'd still have to get hard first," Sheldon said mechanically, lost in thought. Amy didn't mind when Sheldon was a million miles away so long as he was gazing into her soul. When he was staring at the ceiling, it just felt like he was disappointed in her.
"I'm not sure I can help with that," Amy sighed. She'd keep offering him outs until he realized he didn't have to whore his body for her benefit. "From what I've been able to ascertain, the only thing you like touching you is a bar of soap."
"I'm not opposed to all physical contact," Sheldon shrugged. "I like having my belly scratched. That's one of the reasons I wouldn't mind being a house pet to a race of super-intelligent aliens."
Amy cocked her head in surprise. How had this never come up? Tentatively, she reached out and circled her fingers around his navel. "Like this?"
Sheldon flinched at first, then closed his eyes, smiling contentedly. "Mmmhmm."
That was all the encouragement Amy needed. Pushing up his shirt, she widened her circle, testing his stomach, delighting in the way his muscles contracted at her touch. The breathy laughs told her he wasn't faking his appreciation. Sheldon squirmed and rolled his ankles, pressing into her hand when she hit a sweet spot, his smile never fading. It was so simple, and yet so gratifying to give to him. He started humming and nestled against her, pulling her arms around his torso. His body writhed as she explored his ribs and sternum; she dragged her fingers across his shoulders, and down to his hips. He seemed more pleased by that than anything else she's done to him.
"I like when you touch me like this," he hummed, wriggling his hips, making his dick fall lazily to one side. Thinking that might be an invitation, Amy reached down and stroked it lightly. His smile never dimming, Sheldon clasped his hand with hers and held it securely over his belly.
"You were right. We should stop for tonight," he said, his satisfied sigh making it look like he'd already achieved orgasm. Amy nestled next to him, hooking her chin on his shoulder. A part of her had expected him to stop her, but she was still disappointed. Sheldon squirmed at the feel of her breath on his neck, and he pulled back, gazing lazily at her. "Is it okay if I stay? I want you to be the first thing I see in the morning."
It was a hell of a way to ask—half clothed, lying side by side. Sheldon didn't have pajamas at her place. Would he sleep in the buff? Considering how half-naked they were now, it seemed a shame to add clothes. Would he spoon her in the night and wake up with morning wood? "I don't know," Amy hedged.
Sheldon's eyes shot open and he stared at her in alarm, searching her face, trying to read all the questions she had roiling in her mind. "It's not enough, is it? I'm not enough."
His face falling at the realization, Sheldon sat up quickly and started rooting through the bed sheets for his clothes. Amy panicked, suddenly wanting to fight for him, but not sure she could. In his mind, he was giving her everything he could, but meeting him half way felt too much like rejection. She'd just discovered the belly rubbing thing. There had to be more she could do!
"Sheldon," she said, pulling the sheets toward her to cover her naked lower half. "When you masturbated in the shower thinking of me, what did you imagine me doing?"
Sliding into his briefs, Sheldon sat on the edge of the bed and stared at his knees. "Nothing unusual. You were just there, watching. Your eyes were looking into mine, and you smiled, and you… you were just there. I always want you there."
"I'm here now," Amy said, peeking around his shoulder, trying to look him in the eye. "Does it upset the fantasy if I'm touching you?"
"No," Sheldon said quickly. "Yes. No. You do things that surprise me."
Amy knew Sheldon didn't like surprises and he was slow to adapt to change. She'd had to go on a date with Stewart before Sheldon even conceded to being her boyfriend. Gathering her nerve and trying to be accommodating, Amy disentangled the towel from the sheets and laid it over the chair by her vanity.
"Let me watch," she offered plaintively.
Sheldon peeked at her with bashful eyes and twiddled his thumbs in his lap. "Then can I stay the night?"
"We'll see," Amy crooned teasingly, giving him a little shove to get him off the bed.
Sheldon paced twice around the chair, then he picked up his pants, his eyes filling with tears. "No. I believe I've honed in on the problem. I'm afraid if I don't perform perfectly tonight, you'll still break up with me."
"You can't not eat because you're afraid of choking," Amy said, quoting the slightly relevant Chinese proverb she'd read on twitter that afternoon.'
"My need for you is more basic than my need for food," Sheldon snarled, shoving his legs into his pants, then tripping over his ankles. Sheldon tumbled, barely missing the chair and hitting the ground hard. Then he curled into a fetal position and sobbed softly.
"Are you hurt? Sheldon!" Amy cried, falling beside him and checking his head for concussion.
"Of course I'm hurt," Sheldon whined, hiccupping. "I haven't hurt this much since the day I got back from the North Pole, was humiliated in front of all my colleagues, and lost the Nobel Prize."
"That does sound like a tough day," Amy said sympathetically. Taking a risk, she reached across his folded body and scratched his belly. Her touch worked like magic, soothing his tears. He rocked slowly against her hand, his body relaxing and stretching, though he still clutched his left knee.
"Do you need ice?" Amy asked, touching the knee. Sheldon flinched, but shook his head, so she went back to rubbing his belly. "Do you want to stay the night? Sheldon?"
Sheldon kept rocking, his eyes going to that distant place that never had the relationship answers he wanted, but that must have been safe, because he always went there. Sniffling, he said: "I'm weighing my options—to be shattered all at once or torn slowly to pieces one bit at a time."
The words made Amy cry. Her tears splashed on his shoulder, and she tried to keep her sobs as quiet as possible. She'd weighed the same options, and she hated that they both drove each other to that pain.
"There's another option," Amy said. Not because she knew what it was, but because she was sure it had to be there. Otherwise, love was not what everyone said. "I'm sure if I rub your belly long enough, it'll come to me."
Sheldon rolled onto his back, resting his head on her lap, and he watched her cry. His fingers wandered up her arm, petting her absently. He wiped the tears from her cheeks, then touched her lips so she could taste the saltiness of her sadness. She kissed his fingers desperately, and he didn't pull away.
"Do you know, the first time you kissed me," he said nostalgically, continuing to trace her lips. "Well you don't remember because you were drunk, but… I said 'fascinating.' Because it was."
"Why?" Amy asked, rubbing her cheek against his hand, absorbing as much of his touch as she could in case the worst should happen.
"Because…I wasn't repulsed by it," he said. Then he cupped her head and pulled her body over his until their lips touched. His mouth didn't open, so she kept hers closed as well. His kiss was soft and gentle, no tongue, but long. Amy realized that they were both just breathing and keeping their lips connected, like a hug, but on the face. Sheldon broke the kiss first, and leaned his forehead against hers. "Keep rubbing my belly."
"My knees are hurting in this position. Can we move this to the bed?" Amy asked, sitting up and raking her fingers over Sheldon's torso.
Sheldon craned his neck to look at the bed and his body curled around hers. "I'm scared of losing you."
Gently prodding, Amy pulled him back onto the bed, pulling back the covers and untangling the sheets. "Then you had better hold onto me. All night. Don't let go."
Amy wasn't sure if anything had been won or lost, or if they'd just reached another standoff in the long battle that would eventually lead to their break-up. Sheldon laid down in her bed, insisting on taking the right side. They were both on their backs, side-by-side, her hand resting on his belly, his hand resting on hers. Two amazing orgasms via vibrator and her boyfriend sleeping over for the first time, and the victory still felt hollow. Sheldon's hand kept twitching over hers and his stomach contracted lightly, and she figured it was because he didn't want her touching him. After an hour, she was ready to retract her hand, but then she noticed the sheet tenting. What?
"Are you thinking of me?" she teased, tugging the sheet to put pressure on the erection.
"A little," Sheldon chuckled, squirming and sighing. He reached under the covers and started stroking himself slowly, but his other hand still held hers clutched to his chest. Wriggling her fingers, Amy started to tickle and tease his stomach and Sheldon loosened his grip, letting her work her mischief. His body arched and bowed, and he made those little satisfied sighs he'd been making before.
Using her free hand, Amy pulled back the top sheet and shoved Sheldon's underwear down to his thighs. His hips lifted in response and he pumped himself harder. His dick had more than doubled in size.
"Look at me," Sheldon groaned, pressing his head hard into the pillow.
"I am," Amy crooned appreciatively, then realized he meant for her to look at his face. Tearing her gaze off his straining, flush body, she looked him in the eye. They smiled at each other, relaxed, precious, and adored. His face was red, and his eyes earnest in yearning for her.
Then, slowly, he pulled her hand down over his cock, and guided her through the strokes. The hardness made her shudder and his length filled her with lust. In their previous attempts that evening, he'd given her a number of pointers about what he liked, but it was hard to remember them in the heat of passion. She wriggled her finger in that spot at the base of his cock that he'd told her about, and his eyes bugged out as he gasped. With every upward stroke, she swiped her finger across his slit. Then his hand clenched around hers and he guided her to make rapid, short jerks. When he shot his load and the sticky, white stripes of cum landed on her fist, she wasn't as excited as she thought she'd be. Next time, we're definitely using a condom.
Sheldon's orgasm looked a like a sneeze, every muscle in his chest tightening as his body curled forward. He crowed happily, then caught his breath and his face went stiff. His jaw flapped in embarrassment, and he jumped out of the bed, running for the bathroom to rinse off. When he came back, he had a damp washcloth and he cleaned the cum off her arm.
"That was erotic," Amy said by way of a thank you. Despite the mess, it was fun and spontaneous. Sheldon nodded politely, then got under the covers, lying on his side and facing her. She could tell he was still embarrassed, but he wanted to connect because he kept gazing at her, entwining his fingers loosely with hers.
"Tell me you didn't do that just to keep me around," Amy said, the doubt creeping back in now that the heat of the moment had faded.
"It crossed my mind," Sheldon murmured, turning his hand, breaking and reestablishing the connection in their fingers nervously. "You did try to break up with me the other day."
"You don't have to buy my love with sexual favors," Amy assured him, reaching across the bed and running her fingers over his lips and his chin.
"I said it crossed my mind. I didn't say it was my primary motivation," Sheldon said flatly. "You expressed interest solely in watching. I would not have allowed you to touch me if I didn't want it just a little."
"You wanted me to touch you?" Amy asked, excited by the confession.
"I was curious?" Sheldon said noncommittally.
"Did you like it?"
Sheldon took a deep breath and sat up again, pulling his knees to his chest, keeping himself covered with the sheet. "Are you asking for an honest opinion or is there a specific answer that will facilitate continued good relations between us?"
"Honest opinion," Amy said automatically, propping herself on one elbow and stroking Sheldon's back, wondering if he'd find that as soothing as a belly scratch.
"I felt a mixture of psychological discomfort and extreme physical pleasure," Sheldon said academically. "I believe your hand-job technique could be improved upon with practice, but you have good intuition for supplemental cues, like foreplay and eye contact."
"You were right about the mess being unpleasant," Amy allowed, hoping to assuage any shame he felt on the matter. "How about I get a condom and we can practice some more?"
Sheldon squirmed. "Okay."
Amy caught the hesitance in his voice and stopped touching him, affording him a moment of clarity of thought. "Or I could stop harassing you and we could go to sleep."
"No, I don't want that," Sheldon said thoughtfully. "Now that you've opened the invitation, my lips are already buzzing in anticipation of an arousing kiss."
"Is that true, or are you just flattering me so I'll keep you around?" Amy checked, flipping around so she could see his face and not his backside.
"You know what I need to hear," he said, his voice thick with emotion. "Why won't you say it?"
"What? That you're enough for me?" Amy asked. Would love always be pushing her to her limits?
"Yes," Sheldon said, ducking his head because he was ashamed to need it. "But more… the other thing."
"Oh," Amy said, chiding herself. Cradling his chin, she lifted his eyes, gazing adoringly at her boyfriend. "I love you."
"Like you mean it."
"I love you," Amy repeated tenderly, crawling into his lap, snaking her arms around his neck, and lifting his face with her tender kisses. "I love you."
She felt him getting hard again and she squirmed nervously. Sheldon was tense and frightened, completely at her mercy… so she mercifully backed off his lap and stroked his belly with her fingers, coaxing him to lie down.
"Would you mind terribly if I measured your hard cock? I want to be able to brag accurately to my girlfriends," she said, looking him in the eye because she knew he needed it.
"Eight and a half inches hard. You're the only woman in the world I'll ever share it with. I love you," Sheldon said seriously. They smiled at each other. It was easier to look into his eyes now that she knew he was curious, and that he wanted her just a little. Then he put his hand on her belly, tickling her lightly and saying: "Now get a condom before I make a mess again."