This takes place not too long after The Weekend Vortex in season 5. I swear it's not AU. Sheldon obviously went back to the comic book store after unsuccessfully finding a gift anywhere else, and after the end I'm sure they guys calm him back down in time for Howard's bachelor party.
If you recognize the High Fidelity Easter egg, you have to admit it's the only logical explanation. If you don't recognize it, go rent the movie. It's frackin' awesome.
Captain Sweatpants approached Stuart as he placed an authorized and autographed Thor helmet on the shelf behind the counter.
"Hey, Jerry. You ready to check out already? You've only been here an hour."
"No. I just wanted to tell you there's a problem in the back of the store."
The door chimed as Wil Wheaton walked in with a load of boxes on a hand cart. He nodded proudly down at them. "Finally came in!"
"Great, Wil. Can you start without me? I'll be right back." Stuart walked quickly to the back. Nothing was on fire but he definitely was not happy when he got a look at the limited edition display case. "Dale! What the hell are you doing?"
Dale finished placing the last hardcover and gave a small wave to someone behind Stuart. "Hi," he said.
Stuart looked over his shoulder. Wil had followed him. He had the kind of smile on his face you reserve for toddlers and idiots. "Hello," he said back.
"Yeah. I like my name!"
Stuart grabbed a stack of comics out of the case and pushed them back at Dale. "Redo the whole thing. This time match the titles, not the colors!" He stalked back up front with Wil following. Together they began opening boxes.
Wil jerked his head towards the back of the store. "Tell me again why he's still here?"
Stuart shook his head. "I can't fire him. I hired him for three days a week and he just started showing up every day. That was four years ago. I don't even pay him anymore. And frankly, he's more than I can afford."
Wil laughed. "I know street bums less broke than you." Wil finished emptying the first box and picked up Stuart's sketch book off the counter. He leafed through it as Stuart continued to unpack. "It's a shame you never did anything with this. You're pretty good."
"Me and a million other comic book losers."
Wil stopped at the one of Penny. Her eyes seemed to burn through the page. "Hot."
"Yeah, I'm pretty proud of that one. Took less than five minutes and got me a date."
"You were always good at using art to pull the ladies. Not so good on the follow-through." Wil stroked his chin. "I know her… "
"You're joking, right?" Stuart pointed at a framed photograph of a group of cross-dressing superheroes. "You broke up her and her boyfriend so we could win at bowling!"
Wil snapped his fingers. "That's how I know her!" He laughed. "That was so awesome!" He continued flipping through the book. Near the back he stopped at a more recent one of a female in a Bettie Page pin-up pose, finished in colored inks; Brunette, a Roman nose, bright green eyes, covered neck to toe but still a fine body. "Nice! I like her face. Really unique for a comic book character. Boobs are a little small, though."
"She doesn't like the standard 'flotation devices' so I kept it real out of respect."
"This chick's real?" He took a second look. "I take it back. Those are more than decent for reality. How did you get the guts to even talk to a girl like that in the first place?"
"She doesn't actually look that intimidating. She normally goes for lots of layers, glasses, no make-up."
"So, a geek girl?"
"More like a nerd girl. Reeeally smart, doesn't like comics or science fiction, but we still hit it off."
Wil tapped the picture. "This didn't work on her?"
"Never got a chance to show it to her." Stuart sighed. "I liked to imagine she might walk around like an all-business Diana Prince but underneath lurked this awesome Wonder Woman."
"That's beautiful, man. You should write cards." Wil put down the pad and started helping again. "Or you could just try growing a pair. Honestly though, you've gotten really good at undressing girls with your eyes. Must be convenient considering you never actually touch them."
"Shut up, Wil."
"So why didn't you ask her out?"
"We gave it a shot. Didn't work out. It was a mutual decision."
"Bullshit! It's never a mutual decision!" The door chimed. Wil and Stuart looked over to see Leonard come in followed by the usual gang. Stuart looked at the clock. On the dot, 6 o'clock. Just like every other New Comic Book Night. Wil nodded to them; the guys waved and said some perfunctory friendly greetings before continuing on to the new comic bin.
Stuart tried to change the subject. "I can't believe Leonard's OK with you after what you did to him."
"Water under the bridge, my friend. Anyway, Sheldon tells me they're cool now. And you have to remember the important thing."
"I won at bowling, and I suck at bowling." The door opened again and Stuart turned a lighter shade of pale. Amy Farrah Fowler was struggling to navigate the door while trying not to drop both her purse and a rather cumbersome novelty item. When she finally made it through she walked straight to the counter and threw down a broad sword with a tennis ball stuck on the tip. Wil jerked his fingers away just in time to avoid losing some.
"Hey! Watch it, lady."
"My apologies." She turned to Stuart. "I need to return this."
"Nice to see you, too, Amy." Stuart pulled off the tennis ball. "I don't know. It's not in its original condition."
Amy frowned at him. "I'm given to understand this whole thing was your idea."
Stuart cleared his throat and tugged at his collar. "Fine, I can give you store credit."
He stared at her incredulously. The sword cost $180. "It's not our policy. See? There's a sign." He pointed at it as if it bore the authoritative weight of The Ten Commandments.
Wil couldn't help himself. He made a frightened face worthy of Scooby Doo and waved his hands around like he was warding off the devil. "A sign! Oh no! Whatever shall you do?"
"Not helping, Wil." Stuart said under his breath.
Amy ignored them both. "The sign is irrelevant. And I am confused by what you mean by 'our policy'. You were quite boastful about the fact that you are the sole proprietor of this establishment. Besides, you should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting this as a gift for a 93-year-old woman."
Wil stopped jumping around. "You're kidding. Who would fall for that?"
Amy sighed. "My boyfriend, I'm afraid. He's quite brilliant but he has the social IQ of an infant."
"You know, I know a guy just like that," Wil said as he looked over at Sheldon. "Would rather play with toys than chicks, though."
Stuart took a deep breath and tried his best to sound manly and resolute. "It was his money; he can make his own decisions."
Amy put her hands on the counter and leaned forward. "Really?" Although there were two feet of solid Formica between them Stuart found himself stepping back. "So you weren't just seizing an opportunity to indulge your avarice while taking your vengence upon a perpetual social neophyte."
Stuart forced himself to step back up to the counter and look her in the eyes. "Look, I have a business to run. Those eComics are running my store into the ground."
"So this has nothing to do with revenge?"
"No?" He cringed as she narrowed her eyes. "I mean, no!" But it was too late. There it was, the ball-shriveling contempt he'd seen in every other woman's gaze. Now it was on her face. She'd finally realized what a loser he was. "Amy…" He tried not to show how much he wanted to cry right now. Forget about Amy, Wil would never let him hear the end of it. He looked away from her and cleared his throat again. "These are the facts. I already spent the money to keep the lights on this month. I just don't have it. Besides," he said, looking back at her, "I think it's fair to say you owe me one."
She showed no sign of knowing she'd hurt him. She straightened up and continued on, speaking professionally. "Fair enough. Perhaps an installment plan? You can give me $50 today. It's more than enough to buy my aunt something more appropriate. You can give the rest to him in $50 increments the first New Comic Night of every month until it's paid off. He'll probably spend it here anyway."
"Deal," Stuart said. He held his hand out automatically. Before he could could think to pull it back she reached out and shook it. She smiled at him. He smiled back. Maybe she didn't hate him after all?
"Excuse me," Wil interrupted. "You've got something stuck on your glasses."
Amy looked puzzled. "I hadn't noticed." She let go of Stuart's hand and took off her glasses. "I don't see anything."
"You don't?" Wil asked innocently.
She looked up at him mistrustfully before putting her glasses back on. "No, I don't."
"Sorry must have been a reflection." He held out his hand. "Wil Wheaton, nice to meet you. You may have heard of me."
She shook his hand, not as warmly as she had with Stuart. "Amy Farrah Fowler. And while I have heard some things about you, I can't say that any of it made sense."
"Anything I can clear up for you?"
She looked at him condescendingly. "I didn't say I cared." Amy looked down at the comic book Wil was inexplicably holding in front of his chest. "Is that supposed to be you?"
"This?" Wil looked at it like he'd forgotten it was there."Why, yes it is."
Amy looked at the imposing figure on the cover and then pointedly down to his small pot belly. "Incredibly unrealistic." Wil slowly lowered the comic to cover his stomach while Stuart sniggered. Amy looked around the store, shaking her head. "I don't understand what people see in these things." She looked back to Stuart. "The $50?" He held it out to her without a word. "Thank you," she said, turning her back on them and walking briskly away.
Wil dropped the comic, leaned on the counter, and turned to Stuart. "That's her, isn't it?"
"Yes," Stuart said, not looking up from the box he was opening.
Wil looked skeptically back down at the drawing. "I'll admit she'd probably clean up nice, but right now she's more Clark Kent than Diana Prince."
Stuart picked up the last box of comics and shoved it at Wil. "She's a nice girl, OK?"
"She wasn't sounding so nice a minute ago." Wil struggled not to spill box before dropping it back down on the counter. "What the hell happened with you two?"
Stuart looked in the other direction. Leonard and his friends had finished in record time and were already heading towards them. "Can we talk about this later?" he said under his breath.
"Hi, Stuart," Leonard said.
"Hey, guys," Stuart smiled and took Leonard's selection from him. "All done?"
"Yeah." Leonard looked at the comic lying before him and picked it up. "Hey, Wil, Is this your new comic?"
Wil puffed out his chest and pulled on a set of imaginary suspenders. "'Tis indeed."
"Awesome! I loved The Guild."
"Thanks. We've got a new season coming out this summer."
Howard picked up one from the pile. "Nice. Codex is looking ho-ho-ho-hot! I'll take one." Stuart nodded and rang it up with the rest. "You know," Howard continued as he fingered his Spy Vs Spy belt buckle, "I always thought I'd make a great comic book hero." Raj gave him a dirty look. Leonard elbowed him.
"Come on Howard," Leonard said. "We all agreed to leave Rat Man in the past."
Sheldon shook his head in derision as he used only the tips of his fingers to take the comic from Howard. "Ridiculous. Basing a comic book off of pseudo video game characters played by yet another set of fictional characters on a show not worthy of cable television syndication."
Wil looked at what Sheldon was buying. "You think The Flash is more believable?"
"Tell ya' what, Sheldon. I'll sign one, just for you."
"Oh, goody! Would you?"
"Sure," Wil said. He picked up a fresh one and disappeared under the counter. "Pens are down here... right, Stuart?"
"Bottom drawer, on the left," Stuart answered as Sheldon continued talking.
"So, Stuart. I infer from my observation of Amy no longer lugging around a swashbuckling walking stick that you and she came to an arrangement?"
Wil slowly stood back up and raised his eyebrow at Stuart. Stuart ignored him and bounced on the balls of his feet. "Yes, Sheldon. I'll give you back the money in installments. I already gave the first chunk to Amy. You'll get the next payment next month."
Leonard was impressed. "Not store credit? How'd she convince you to do that?"
"She was... very persuasive," Stuart said vaguely.
Sheldon nodded his head in admiration and looked over at Amy. She was already standing by the door as she waited impatiently for them to finish up. "She is a remarkable woman."
"Now wait just a goddamn minute." Everyone looked at Wil. "Did you buy her aunt that broadsword?"
"Yes, though I've been told I, forgive me for doing this," here Sheldon held up his hands in air quotes, "'screwed the pooch' on that one."
Wil braced his legs and spread his arms out before him. "Just to be perfectly clear: You two are dating. Really dating, not some weird World of Conan virtual thing?"
"Yes," Sheldon said matter-of-factly. "Amy Farrah Fowler is my girlfriend."
Raj nodded. "It's true. Howard and I have only ourselves to blame."
"Don't think about it too hard or you'll give yourself nightmares," Howard said as he took his change and walked away with the others.
Wil shook his head. "Well, well, well. How the mighty have fallen."
Sheldon sighed. "Yes, I'm afraid so. I find myself no better off than any other man. Enslaved to a hotsy-totsy from Glendale."
"How the hell did this happen?"
"Time to go Sheldon," Leonard called from the door. "Thanks again, Stuart."
"No problem." Stuart shoved Sheldon's change into his hands and pointed at the door. "You better get going."
Sheldon continued talking to Wil as if Stuart wasn't even there. "Well, we made it official during her date with Stuart. Ask him, he can tell you all about it." Stuart cringed. Would the humiliation never end?
Wil looked at Stuart and grinned. "Oh, I bet he can." He quickly finished scribbling on the comic book and handed it to Sheldon. "Here you go. Enjoy."
Sheldon smiled. "Thank you for my comic book."
"My pleasure," Wil said. Sheldon left, following Amy through the door while Leonard held it for them both.
Wil smacked his hands on his thighs and started shaking with laughter. "Sheldon Cooper! Sheldon fucking Cooper stole a girl from you? How can you look at yourself in the mirror?"
Stuart turned away with a red face and started breaking down the empty boxes. "Since I started living in the store basement I don't have a mirror." He groaned. "Look, I don't need this crap from you right now. I just lost my profit for the day. Do you think you could stop putting me down for two minutes and slap some more autographs on these so I can afford to buy soap this week?"
"No problem. Don't get your panties in a bunch." Wil pulled the cap back off the pen with his teeth and grabbed another comic book. Before he started he looked back up. "Seriously, though, can you be any more of a loser?"
Stuart lost it and yelled back at him. "I don't know! Can you be any more of a dick?"
Wil didn't look offended at all. "Touché." He looked out at the guys as they got in the car. "Just be glad I'm on your side, Stewie. Keep watching. This one's for you."
They watched as Leonard backed the car out of the spot and began to turn past the store. Sheldon was sitting shotgun even though his girlfriend was in the back with the others. His head was bent down towards his lap when suddenly it jerked up. He jutted his whole upper body out the window like an angry Doberman, pounded on the roof of the car, and shook the comic book back at the store as the car swerved erratically. As they disappeared around the corner they could clearly hear Sheldon screaming back at them,
Wil laughed and pounded Stuart on the back. "Now I'm done."
"I don't get it. What did you do?" Wil handed the sketchbook to him. Stuart's eyes widened at what he saw, or more accurately, didn't see.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Leonard yelled as he pulled the car back into their lane. Howard grabbed Sheldon's belt and yanked him unceremoniously back into the car. Raj reached over and snatched the comic away from him before he could think to resist. It fell open in Raj's hands. Everyone in the back saw it at once. Howard started laughing his head off. Raj blushed. Amy merely raised an eyebrow. Leonard pulled the car over and turned around. "What set him off this time?" Raj passed it over to him while Sheldon tried to grab it back. Leonard leaned away from him and held it out his own window so he could see. Tucked inside the first page was an inked drawing of what could only be called a Sexy Amy Farrah Fowler, and opposite it, on the inside cover in fat black ink:
To my dear friend, Sheldon
Tell your girlfriend to lose those layers. She's got a hot ass.
Your friend, Wil
Reviews would be appreciated for my ego's sake. I've been working at plotting out a Shamy and friends romance and it intimidates the hell out of me. I need some fuel until I can get back on a roll.