The Family Reunion Probability Theorem
Disclaimer: I don't own The Big Bang Theory or any of its varied characters. The Big Bang Theory is a copyright of Chuck Lorre & Bill Prady. I am merely taking their characters out for a little joy ride.
"You should also know that all physical contact up to and including coitus is off the table."
Amy Farrah Fowler (TBBT Season 3)
"The Lunar Excitation"
If Amy hadn't known better, she would have thought Sheldon was going to kiss her.
All indicators certainly supported this hypothesis. The accelerated breathing, the sweat beading along her boyfriend's forehead, his inability to hold her gaze, and the constant wringing of his hands in his lap were all classic symptoms of a nervous man about to plant a big one on his lady love for the first time.
Could it be? After so long?
But as much as her heart wanted the evidence to point in that direction, her brain remained unconvinced. After all, this was Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper, a mysophobic, Mr. Spock-idolizing theoretical physicist. This was a man who thought hand-holding was reserved for providing comfort during flu shots and hugging was something one did not more than once or twice a year. And, in case she ever forgot any of the aforementioned rules, there was a relationship agreement which spelled out in black and white just how much he wanted to avoid any and all physical contact. In fact, in the over two years she had been Sheldon's girlfriend, the closest he'd come to being what anyone would consider as a "real boyfriend" had been a ten-minute cuddle session and even that had only happened after a period of terse negotiations.
But, if he's not going to kiss me, what else could it be?
This was a puzzle Amy's mind could not solve, which only intrigued her more. It was the third Thursday in June, their scheduled "date night" for the month. They'd enjoyed dinner at a Sheldon-approved Italian restaurant and had just left a showing of an action-thriller involving a deadly gang of robot zombies. She'd expected the ride home to be filled with him blissfully exalting the wonders of the film while she countered with the implausibility of not only zombies, but robot zombies wielding Samurai swords. Instead, he'd been silent, staring out the window, and speaking only monosyllabic answers to any question she posed. She'd thought perhaps he'd fallen ill or was simply too tired to talk. Now, as they sat in her car outside of his apartment, she was completely baffled as to what was going on. Sheldon made no move to get out so she could continue on to her place. No, he remained seated, the navy blue seatbelt still encircling his chest even though her dashboard clock read 10:19 PM.
In the immortal words of Lewis Carroll, "Curiouser and curiouser."
Once Sheldon indicated that he wanted to be her boyfriend, Amy had carefully plotted a 5-year, step-by-step schedule to chart the trajectory of this relationship with the ultimate goal being marriage to Sheldon. There was even a chart which plotted each phase along the journey as well as established a date and time for when each step should be taken. She used scientific theory and neurobiological and mathematical principles to discern the steps required to get Sheldon to fall in love with her, to be comfortable with her presence in the major aspects of his life, and to confront and overcome his aversion to physical contact—at least where she was concerned. She saw it as the major scientific accomplishment of her life and career. It would never be published in a scientific journal of note—some things were private, after all—but she was quite proud of the many triumphs she had already made in this area. She knew others like her best friend Penny would see all of this as unemotional and too scientific. It's supposed to be about romantic love, after all. But, Penny didn't understand that, for people like Amy and Sheldon, everything was based in science.
More importantly, Amy desperately loved Sheldon. She'd realized this only a few weeks before Sheldon had asked her to be his girlfriend. It had been a shock to discover herself in this condition—not only because it was Sheldon, but because she'd never believed herself able to produce these feelings for anyone. The second she'd realized and accepted the notion that her heart forever belonged to Sheldon Lee Cooper, she had decided that it wasn't enough. He had to love her back just as ardently. She suspected that he was already halfway there. After all, there was a moment in their early acquaintance when they'd broken off all contact after a heated discussion on scientific rivalries. The next thing she knew, she had received a call from Sheldon's mother telling her that Sheldon had bought a clowder of cats because he was pining for one Amy Farrah Fowler. Then, more importantly, there were other indicators. The constant, daily communication; his rampant jealousy of any potential male suitors who dared look her way; his begrudging consent to amend the relationship agreement to include some physical contact; and, of course, his proposal that she be his girlfriend in the first place. Moreover, there were instances when Sheldon looked at her in a uniquely curious way—like the greatest scientific discovery he'd ever seen was unfolding right in front of him—his blue eyes seeming to soak up everything about her like a sponge. She mentally sighed. Yes, he's halfway in love with me already.
So, it was certainly possible he had determined this fact for himself tonight and was considering kissing her to test his hypothesis. After all, it's what any good scientist should do. Yes, it's possible, Amy thought, watching him, but not probable.
She put the car in park and turned off the engine. Flipping on the overhead light so she could see him better, she turned to him and asked, "Sheldon, are you all right?"
"Yes. Of course. Why wouldn't I be?" he said, his eyes intent on the front windshield.
"Are you sure?" Instinctively, she reached out to touch his hand.
He flinched away from her in alarm, which made her immediately pull back. She knew better than to do that, but her acceptance of her boyfriend's many phobias didn't take away the sting of rejection that welled within her. It never did.
Amy inhaled, intent on trying a different method to get the answers she wanted. Sheldon was always a challenge she could never seem to overcome. It was one of the many reasons she relished her time with him. But, more than that, she admired and genuinely liked him as a person. They were alike in so many areas and different in others—but in a good, fascinating sort of way. They were the perfect couple. Well, almost. The almost came during those odd moments when she found herself studying his large, well-defined hands and wondering what it would be like to have them caressing her body. Other times, she would be mesmerized by his generous mouth, imagining his soft, wet lips kissing their way down her neck.
Not now, she told herself. The time for succumbing to base urges and hormones would come later … much, much later. Amy already had it plotted out on the schedule. She would cure Sheldon of his many issues, but not tonight. No, tonight her intent was on finding the source of whatever was troubling him.
"Sheldon," she began again, keeping her voice neutral and businesslike in order to calm him, "as you have not yet exited my vehicle and your bedtime has come and gone, I can only assume that there is something of importance you wish to discuss with me. What is it?"
Sheldon sighed, looking down at the hands clenched tightly in his lap. "I once again underestimated your superb skills of observation, reasoning, and deduction, Amy Farrah Fowler."
Amy held back from pointing out the obvious—that anyone with eyes could see he was upset—and focused on his face. "You can tell me anything. You know this."
He nodded, but stayed silent. Her clock read 10:33 before she spoke again.
"I have to work tomorrow, Sheldon. Perhaps it might be better for you to consider whatever it is you want to say and call me in the morning." To emphasize her words, she reached up to turn the key in the ignition.
"No," he yelped, grabbing her hand.
She inhaled—they both did—as his hand captured hers. The warmth radiating from his long fingers was surprising. That her whole hand was tingling in response was also a bit of a shock. So many people had cold hands, but not Sheldon—never Sheldon. They both stared at his hand covering hers. She blushed at the intimacy of the moment, even though she knew it was ridiculous. They had held hands on many occasions ever since she'd demanded he amend the relationship agreement to allow for it on specified dating times. But, this was only the second time he'd ever willingly reached for her, the second time he'd touched her without her having to give him written notice via text or email. The first time had been during a deeply emotional experience for him, and it had been so long ago she'd almost forgotten what it felt like.
But, boy, did she remember now.
Amy shouldn't have been surprised when he yanked his hand away, but she was. The first thing she noticed was the lack of warmth—even though it was a hot, humid summer evening. The second was that the tingling was still present in her hand. Only, the more she thought about it, the more she realized it wasn't a tingling sensation after all; it was more like a slow, delicious burn.
Embarrassed by the turn of her thoughts, she buried her hand in the folds of her skirt, trying to refocus on Sheldon. His cheeks were rosy from what looked like a blush, something she found charming.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have touched you like that," he said, his eyes latched on the fact that her offended limb was currently entombed by several inches of cotton and polyester.
"It's fine, Sheldon. Please, just tell me whatever it is you need to say. The waiting is killing me."
"You're right. This is like a Band-Aid. I should just to rip it off and get it over with."
She frowned, not liking where this was going.
"Amy," he said, angling his body towards her. "Our relationship agreement has been in place for two years and, with the exception of a few missteps that were mostly your fault—"
"But—" she argued.
He held up a hand to stave off her words. "I didn't say they were all your fault, but I think we can safely conclude that most came about because of you. Now, as I was saying, we have been in what I would term as a successful relationship for the last two years. However, I have recently been made aware of a social convention that, try as I might, I cannot avoid. Thus, I am left with two choices: One, to give in to this ridiculous social pressure and subject myself to something which I find morally and physically repugnant as well as infinitely tedious or, two, to terminate my relationship with you. "
He's breaking up with me? Amy's mind went into shock. She couldn't believe this was actually happening.
"I know," he said, calmly. "Who would have thought we would ever come to this? But, there really is no other way around it." He took a deep, determined breath. "So, with this in mind, Amy Farrah Fowler, will you accompany me to Texas for the Cooper Family Reunion?"
Tears were biting at the back of her eyes when his words finally sank in. "What?"
He sighed as though he were exhausted. "Why do you always make me ask these horrendously uncomfortable questions twice?" He sighed again. "Will you come to the Cooper Family Reunion with me? It's next weekend and, according to my mother, not bringing my girlfriend to meet all of my relatives is unacceptable. I have tried to sway her, but it's impossible. So, what do you say? We'll fly out Thursday pre-evening. You'll need to take next Friday off, but we'll return Sunday night, I'll pay for your plane ticket, and we can stay at a nearby motel—in separate rooms, of course. This was the only concession I was able to get my mother to make and I—Amy, are you crying?"
"They're happy tears," she said, trying to mop the evidence from her face.
He looked confused, but relieved. "So, does this mean you will come with me?"
Sheldon smiled. "Excellent. I will email you written notice at least 72 hours in advance as per our relationship agreement. Also, keep an eye out for a pre-flight information packet which will have the full travel arrangements, an itinerary of events while we are in Galveston, and a complete family tree of the Cooper clan with pictures. I will warn you now that I have 33 cousins, five named Billy. I only tell you because this can be confusing on the quiz." He gave her a nod. "Goodnight then, Amy."
"Quiz?" she asked. What is he talking about?
"The quiz you'll have to pass before we board the plane. It's important that you know who everyone is so I don't have to go through the wearisome task of making introduction after introduction. What did you expect?"
"Sheldon, you can't assume —"
He looked down at his watch. "Amy, it is well after my bedtime. Good night. Please text me in the morning if you have further questions. Be well, and thank you for agreeing to come with me."
And with a firm pat on her hand, he got out of the car and walked towards his building. Amy sat there, trying to get her mind wrapped around what had just occurred. Her boyfriend had willingly touched her twice in one evening. That, in itself, was a lot. Then, he asked her to come meet his family in Texas for an entire weekend where they would be staying together in a motel. In separate rooms, but it was still together. Finally, she was expected to learn an entire family tree of Cooper names and faces. There would even be a quiz. But that was not a problem. No, she considered, all in all, it was a benign tumor in an otherwise perfectly formed anterior cerebral hemisphere.
Amy started her car and put it in gear, smiling widely the whole way home. She was thinking of all the good data she'd have to add to her relationship trajectory chart.
Wow. Who would have thought it? We're six months ahead of schedule.