In many ways Leonard felt that he was smarter than Sheldon. He would admit, had been forced to admit on more than one occasion that Sheldon's I.Q. was higher, and he secretly agreed with Sheldon that tests probably could not accurately measure it. He understood that Sheldon's mind could twist and make intuitive leaps based on a deep understanding of the essence of things that he was not capable of. Before he met Sheldon he had known no one smarter than he was. It felt almost good to have someone who could match and beat him at the intellectual feats he had taken for granted. Even if he had been allowed to skip grades he doubted that he could have entered college at 11 and graduated at 14.

But in many ways he was much smarter than Sheldon, because social intelligence was still intelligence. Sheldon couldn't understand sarcasm and much humor, he couldn't look at someone and know what they were feeling. Leonard knew that Sheldon was unable to do those things because he was unable to read the clues that facial expressions and tones of voice provided. It was as though his brilliance in academia had taken everything, and there was nothing left for the social aspect of existence. He had wondered more than once if Sheldon was autistic. It seemed to him that Sheldon had no true theory of mind, but that his superior intellect had allowed him to learn it, to approximate it as best he could.

He heard the key in the lock and watched as Sheldon entered the apartment, the strap of his bag slung over one shoulder and across his chest. Sheldon nodded almost formally at him, tossed his keys into the bowl next to the door, and removed his bag and set it down. Another reason Leonard thought he was autistic was his desperate need to have a routine. The same food on the same days of the week, sitting in the same spot in the apartment, wearing clothes that have been designated for certain days, this behavior struck him as more severe than OCD.

"Hello, Leonard," Sheldon said, his expression flat, his blue eyes rimmed by those long lashes. Leonard knew that autistic children were historically considered to be beautiful, and this may be due to their almost angelic lack of expression. Sheldon rarely smiled, although he did, revealing his slightly off center rows of teeth. He seldom varied his tone of voice.

"Hey, buddy," Leonard said, watching as he went to the kitchen and started opening cabinets. He thought that he had become a part of Sheldon's routine, driving him to work and the comic book store and dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.

He thought that he had never met anyone as innocent as Sheldon was, as untainted by people and their messy relationships and the slavery to tones of voice and facial expressions and the subtle, ever shifting moods of people. He envied it sometimes, envied his obliviousness. He damned his own social intelligence, because it seemed to only bring him pain. He knew very well what he had been missing, he longed for the touches that hadn't come his way.

Sheldon was making tea, and Leonard watched him do it, watched the methodical way he went about that task like all tasks. Things were in order, things were just so. He noticed, and it had taken him awhile to notice, that Sheldon was very good looking. This isn't readily apparent, and Leonard wasn't quite sure why. It probably had something to do with the stiff posture Sheldon had, the flat tone of voice, the quirks and the insistence on routine. This was all you could see at first. It probably had something to do with the severe short haircut, a haircut that Leonard recognized as very similar to the "regular boy's haircut" you got as a child. That was how Sheldon wore his hair, probably since earliest childhood, and he wouldn't vary it. But Sheldon was tall, and he was thin, his shoulders almost narrow, the smooth line of his back going down to the narrow waist. He was so long limbed, like an adolescent. But those eyes. His eyes were large and deep blue, and he would look down under those thick dark lashes, and it could almost melt his heart.

He'd wanted to get closer, to bridge the gap he felt lay between Sheldon and everyone. He'd wanted to spend nights explaining sarcasm and wondering how someone so effortlessly brilliant in theoretical physics couldn't understand the simplest interactions between human beings. He'd wanted to feel the muscles in Sheldon's back beneath his own small hands. He wanted to get lost in those eyes, deep blue like the sky just before dark, like the water in a lake carved out by a glacier.