Leonard Hofstadter carefully made his way out to the kitchen. It was late at night, and even though Leonard was trying to be quiet, he was sure his roommate Sheldon with his damn Vulcan hearing would still be able to hear him. In fact, Leonard was a little surprised Sheldon wasn't out here already, demanding what he was doing up at such an unreasonable hour.
He turned on the small light on over the sink and as quietly he could filled the kettle with water and turned on the stove. Leonard sighed and leaned on the countertop to wait, rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands as he did so, pushing his glasses up onto his forehead.
Even with the knowledge that yes, the odds were extremely good that Sheldon would come out to check on Leonard, the smaller man jumped visibly when a voice broke through the silence. "Leonard, whatever are you doing drinking tea this late?"
"For crying out loud, Sheldon, how many times have I told you not to sneak up on me like that?" Leonard tried to calm his hands as the kettle came to a boil, and he quickly turned off the flame and brought the kettle over to a pot holder on the counter. He got out the tea and put it in the strainer, and then to his cup.
"Including this instance, seven hundred and fifty nine." Sheldon seemed mesmerized by the steam coming off the water Leonard poured into his cup. But as usual, he continued talking. "You never answered my question, Leonard." Sheldon stopped his stare at Leonard's tea and fixed his piercing gaze upon Leonard himself.
Leonard couldn't contain another sigh as he waited for his tea to steep. "Because, Sheldon. I woke up at 3:24 am and wondered, 'What would Picard do?', and of course the only logical answer was to get up and make a cup of Earl Grey." He removed the strainer and disposed of the contents, stirring the liquid as he turned to his roommate still standing in the same spot right below the stairs. "And yes, before you ask, that was sarcasm. I couldn't sleep." Leonard moved past Sheldon and sat down in the oversided chair.
"Ah, it all makes sense now!" Sheldon smiled his little half smile before moving over to sit down on the couch in his spot." You've reached the insomnia stage of your relationship failure with Priya." Sheldon looked smug as he went over the data aloud, obvious to Leonard's look of disdain at the conversation. "First it was the reclusiveness, accompanied by the emo music on your ipod. Then you went into the 'woe is me stage', which, as per usual, involved approximately one week of you laying face down on the couch as often as possible. Which reminds me, please, Leonard, could you please remember after your next couch flopping episode, could you at least remember to take off your shoes before doing so, I had to sanitize the living daylights out of my spot as you had put your shoes there, and who knows what you could have stepped in over the course of the day."
Leonard just shook his head, rolled his eyes and sipped his tea while Sheldon continued. "And so, now that you have refrained for 48 hours from trying to perform a mind meld with the couch, you start the next phase: insomnia. That horrible time in my life where my sleep cycle is disrupted for the next ten to fourteen days while you prowl and skulk through the apartment at all hours of the night, contemplating the meaning of life while you rapidly deplete our tea supply, until you decided that yes, life is indeed worth living, and you go back to sleeping through the night. That is, until you find another girl that will love you, leave you and no doubt start the whole process over again." Sheldon sighed deeply at the end of this speech, like he was the one with the major relationship problems, instead of Leonard.
"Gee, thanks, Sheldon, way to care about my problems oh so much, and turn it around so it's all about you. As always." Leonard scowled into his tea, like that could help his brain process all the information in his head these days. It was getting to be too much. All these thoughts without an outlet, it was driving him crazy. But obviously, Sheldon was not the person to talk to. Even at 3:45 AM. "Also, you may want to note in whatever secret journal of my habits you probably keep, that this is actually day 4 of insomnia fest, but I spent the first 3 nights lying awake looking at the four walls of my bedroom thinking, tossing and turning, and trying my damnest not to come out here and start making tea, because I knew you'd come out here and psychoanalyze me. If I wanted that I would have called my mother." Leonard got up and went over to the sink to rinse out his cup, and set it in the dishrack.
Sheldon looked over at Leonard. "Interesting.. there seems to be a higher level of anxiety and sarcasm with this incarnation of this relationship failure. I'll have to make note of that."
Leonard just snorted and opened the fridge, not really looking for anything in particular, just trying to distract himself for some reason. He gave up and started for the stairs. His voice was tight as he spoke. "You know what, Sheldon, you do just that. I shouldn't have expected you to understand what I'm going through, as usual. You don't seem to need a romantic relationship, and have never had a real romantic relationship,and the odds are probably high that you won't everhave a legitimate romantic relationship, so I don't really need to hear any more of your 'advice' for now. I'm going back to bed. Good night."
"Leonard, wait." A small voice that had to be Sheldon's but didn't really sound totally like Sheldon made Leonard pause. He stopped at the top of the slight stairway and turned to look at his roommate.
Sheldon was still in his spot on the couch, in his black and blue plaid pajamas, looking immaculate as always. But in one respect he looked different.. Sheldon was staring at Leonard with a vulnerability Leonard honestly say he'd only seen from him a handful of times. Leonard's heart softened, and the anger and frustration that he'd been feeling only moments before melted away.
"What is it, Sheldon?" Leonard was suddenly very tired from all the bantering, discussion, and feelings, but he also knew that Sheldon displaying his feeling openly were indeed rare, and was something that could not be rushed. As usual, everything in Sheldon's universe ran on Sheldon's time.
"I-" Sheldon started and stopped, suddenly not sure of his words. "I upset you." He finally managed to get out. Sheldon finally dropped his eyes to his lap, and rubbed at his fingers, not unlike Leonard's behavior when he was nervous.
Leonard didn't have any more fight left. He stepped the two steps down and made his way over to the chair again, although this time closer to the edge of the chair, closer to his roommate, who was avoiding his gaze even as he sat down in his close proximity.
"Well, yeah, you did, but that's typical for some of our conversations, especially when they have to do with your version of relationship advice. Of course, the early time doesn't probably help my mood either. I'm not usually in my best conversation mode at 3:48 am." Leonard made a mental note to make sure the coffee was extra strong in the morning. It was going to be a long day at work, as he stifled a yawn.
Sheldon was still looking very unsure of himself and still wouldn't meet Leonard's eyes. "I didn't mean to upset you, Leonard. I was just.." Sheldon trailed off again, as if the words wouldn't process quite right.
Leonard sighed. "Listen, Sheldon. It's late, and we're both not thinking clearly. Let's just got to bed and get some sleep. It's gonna be a long enough day as it is tomorrow." He started to get up but Sheldon put his hand on Leonard's arm. Leonard stared at the hand as it gripped his arm, a little too tight.
When Leonard looked up at Sheldon and met his eyes, there was something in Sheldon's expression he hadn't ever seen directed at him. Maybe towards Sheldon's mother, or his Meemaw, but not Leonard. Finally Sheldon spoke, breaking the quiet.
"Leonard, I-" Sheldon paused and swallowed hard. "I have something to tell you. And it's not easy for me, so please, remember that." Sheldon looked askance and let go of Leonard's arm, as if he just realized he was probably leaving bruises. Leonard furrowed his brow slightly and nodded for Sheldon to continue. "Leonard, I need you. More than you know or realize. It's complicated for me, as most things involving feelings are. I've spent a lot of time the last two weeks trying to analyze things and come to terms what I feel for you." Sheldon continued to stare at Leonard, but surprisingly, Leonard wasn't uncomfortable with it. It felt comforting, for some reason. Sheldon fidgeted with his hands for a moment while he caught his breath and then continued. "Leonard, I want to sleep with you. I don't mean have sex. I mean sleep. Together. Under my blankets. In my bed. With my hand on your chest and your arm around me. With the window cracked so it's chilly, and we have to cuddle closer, even if it means I risk catching a cold, because I know you get so hot. No talking, just sleepy, blissfully happy silence."
Leonard was not expecting that revelation, and it must have showed on his face, because Sheldon quickly tried to cover for himself. "I'm sorry, Leonard. I probably shouldn't have said those things. It's just very late, and I'm tired, and well, you know, I have needs too.." He trailed off and got up quickly and make his way to the bedroom, not meeting Leonard's eyes.
This time, however, it was Leonard with his hand on Sheldon's arm, stopping with his roommate on the top of the stairs. There was a couple moments of silence as they just looked at each other. Finally Leonard spoke. "Let's go to bed, Sheldon. And you don't need to open the window if you don't want to. I have a feeling I'm going to perfectly comfortable."
Sheldon looked confused for a split second, and then gave Leonard the briefest of smiles before leading the way down the hallway, with Leonard following behind, smiling too before joining his friend in the bedroom.
Not surprisingly, both Dr. Cooper and Dr. Hofstadter called into work the next day, and Leonard's latest bout of relationship induced insomnia was over.