The Light Splitting Experiment, or Five Times Amy Farrah-Fowler Wore Make-Up
Disclaimer: No profit is being made from this work of fan fiction; I own none of these characters.
She had been talking to him for months; all summer long, over email, over text and very occasionally, over the phone. She'd come to grow affectionate of his lengthy tangents, the way he took everything literally, and yes, she even liked his arrogance. It couldn't be helped. The man was completely unaffected by general opinion, and she almost envied that. She didn't after all, end up working alone in a laboratory with dead human parts for company by complete accident.
All summer long, she couldn't keep from smiling to herself as she worked in her lab. If someone had asked, not that anyone ever did, she would have admitted that it had little to do with the fine specimens she had received due to the generous grants allocated to her research, but rather, everything to do with Sheldon Cooper. Little Amy Farrah-Fowler had a gentlemen friend to call her own, she thought, secretly cherishing the sound of those syllables in her mind.
So, when Sheldon finally suggested that they should have dinner, it wasn't a hardship at all to say yes.
The whole day, she'd wondered about her wardrobe. What she ought to wear, how she ought to look. She had no illusions about her appearances, and understood since she was very young that she'd never look like the Jennifers, the Megans and the Angelinas of this world, but still, she found herself obsessing (ever so slightly) on her clothing that day. If her smile got any bigger, Amy thought, her face might split in two. At certain points, she actually caught herself humming quite happily out loud as she imagined what it would be like. Perhaps he'd shyly hand her a flower when he saw her, or maybe he might reach gingerly for her hand as they walked home. She wondered if they'd share an awkward goodnight kiss at the end of the night, and decided at around 4:40 that afternoon that she really wouldn't mind that one bit.
And it would have continued being sweet and lovely, if she didn't find herself on a date not only with Sheldon, but also a girl named Penny. The kind of girl she had longed to be like, be friends with at least, throughout her young life, before she understood that beautiful girls who looked like Penny had no use for girls like Amy. As the awkward car ride rolled on its way to the restaurant, Amy couldn't help but recall Sheldon mentioning a blonde neighbour, who annoyed him with her 'crass, folksy stories' and 'inherent and insipid ways'. While she took comfort in recalling those phrases, she found herself remembering how he tended to bring her up at least once every day.
Over dinner, pretending that she wasn't trying to insult Penny, Amy tried to focus on her food and not the fact that she had bothered to put on eyeshadow for the first time since prom night.
If she cried herself to sleep later, she never said a word about it to anyone. Not her mother, not Penny after she grew to love her, and most certainly, not even to herself.
Penny was exactly what she had always wanted. Better, because she was real. Better, because even though the woman practically shone with a golden kind of beauty all her own, Penny wanted to be her friend. Nothing like the girls she'd known in her life, who looked through her and ignored her when she spoke. Or, worse, pretended to be her friends until the last day of school, when they refused to be in any of her photographs, or thank her for the hours she'd spent doing their homework and assignments.
After they fussed over the bride, Penny took a critical look at Amy's hair. Carefully, she adjusted her straight locks, pushed up her glasses and then stepped back. With a smile, Penny reached for the pink lipgloss she'd purchased for this very occasion. Dabbing a small brush into the greasy paste, she murmured, reaching forwards, "Sheldon might be a robot, but we're going to make sure he can't take his eyes off you today."
"Do you think it'll work?" Amy asked, wondering if her cheeks had turned as pink as her dress under the layers of foundation she'd put on that morning.
Pursing her lips, the other woman tilted her head thoughtfully for a second. Finally she smiled and said, albeit a little unconvincingly, "I think he'd have to be blind not to look."
Walking down the aisle two hours later, Amy could very well see that Sheldon wasn't blind, not after she observed how his eyes lit up when the bridesmaids walked onto the rooftop. It was clear that his gaze was trained on one bridesmaid in particular.
Amy's smile didn't waver and her enthusiasm didn't flag once – after all, it wasn't her day, not really, and playing pretend was sometimes just too hard.
"When I look in your eyes, and you're looking back in mine, everything feels not quite normal. Because I feel stronger and weaker at the same time, I feel excited and at the same time terrified. The truth is I don't know what I feel, except I know what kind of man I want to be."
It might have seemed cliched, but she felt like her heart had stopped. Like her whole world and entire life had suddenly narrowed down to this one moment, this one man sitting in front of her, speaking words she had never dreamed she would have the privilege of hearing.
"Sheldon, that was beautiful." she breathed, praying to whatever god would listen to her that she wouldn't cry. Her mascara was not waterproof.
"I should hope so. That was from the Spiderman movie." he said, without a hint of irony or guile.
Amy thought about it for a second, and said, because there was nothing else to say, "I'll take it."
Later, as they drove on home, Sheldon turned away from the window in the passenger seat and said, very casually, "I should thank Penny for giving me that idea."
"What idea?" Amy asked, trying to ignore that sudden irritation blooming in her chest.
"The idea of using someone else's words. I can see how happy it made you." he replied.
"Oh." she said, staring straight ahead. They rode in silence the rest of the way. As they pulled in front of his building, she abruptly asked, "Did you at least pick that quote yourself?"
"Sort of." Sheldon said thoughtfully. "Penny gave me three options. I chose the one I liked best."
They stared at each other for a long moment. When he spoke again, it was with a smile Amy had never seen him wear before – it was a soft smile, slightly dreamy. And perhaps it was only her imagination, but it looked almost apologetic. "Happy anniversary Amy Farrah-Fowler."
"Yeah. Happy Anniversary." she said. "Go us."
She stayed very still and went nowhere for a very long time, long after he'd exited her car. If he had looked back once, he might have asked her why, but as he didn't do either, she simply sat.
"I thought it was my duty to mitigate the fallout." he said stubbornly. "I am Leonard's friend. I believe that's part of the much hyped "bro-code" is it not?"
"What about the girlfriend code where you don't hang me out to dry?" she demanded, rubbing her forehead, hoping the concealer was doing a good job of masking the circles under her eyes.
"Well what was I supposed to do?" he asked plaintively from his seat on her couch.
"Not storm into Penny's room in the middle of the night." she said with more spite than she had intended.
"I couldn't help myself," he said with a sigh. "I had other issues I've been wanting to discuss with her as it was."
"Such as?" she couldn't stop herself from asking.
"For one thing, I really needed to talk to her about that new shampoo she's using," he stated.
"I'm sorry, what?" Amy blinked in surprise.
"You heard me. That new shampoo she's decided to try. I really don't understand why she would change it to coconut, when green apple worked just fine. Green apple didn't irritate my sinuses one bit."
"What kind of shampoo do you think I should use?" she asked.
"I don't mind whatever it is you're using now." he responded.
"What am I using?"
Sheldon stared at her uncomprehendingly. It was all the answer she needed.
Another couples' night. It had started out much the same as the last one, with Sheldon bitching about never winning anything, and Penny chortling into her beer every time. Finally, someone, probably Leonard, sick of Sheldon's complaints, suggested whipping out the Xbox controllers for a game of Halo.
As she conscientiously wiped away traces of her red lipstick from the lip of her glass, before she could even think of ask what kind of game that was, Sheldon had already cried out triumphantly, "Dibs on Penny! Penny's on my team!"
"No, Penny's on my team. It's couples night and we're a couple!" Leonard pointed out quite logically. Sheldon's face twisted in the way that meant he was about to launch into a lengthy speech about an archaic and unknown portion of the Roommate Agreement.
"Leonard it's fine." Penny said with a long-suffering sigh, interrupting him before he could even begin. "If I help him win, maybe he'll shut up."
"She's right," Sheldon said. "Excellent reasoning for once Penny."
"Or maybe we can find out if you can be killed by friendly fire." Penny informed him.
This went on for a few minutes, while Amy watched without comment. Beside her, Leonard rolled his eyes. Eventually, they settled into the game, though nobody bothered to ask if she knew how to play it. To be fair, she didn't bother asking for instruction, not that she had to – the controllers were simple enough to muster. It didn't take very long from then, before everything changed. Though when she thought about it later, perhaps nothing had.
Ten minutes into the game and a whole lot of on-screen explosions later, Sheldon jumped up from his seat and cheered loudly. Grinning, Penny reached up to high five her teammate, caught up in his excitement. Instead of simply slapping her palm in response however, Sheldon reached down and swept Penny up in a hug.
Watching them, it was impossible for Amy not to think about how hard it had been to convince him to hold her hand, and how he was still so reluctant to even try. Leonard was making another snide comment off to the side, but she'd stopped listening a while ago.
Sitting back, Amy looked on as Penny relaxed into Sheldon's embrace. She began to listen for that almost inaudible sound of a ticking clock, and was almost tempted to turn and ask Leonard if he heard it too. Hell, she wanted to shake Penny and demand to know why, why she didn't seem to notice or care what she had so effortlessly won. Instead, she remained silent, wondering if and when that invisible clock finally began to strike, she would fade away again.