Author's Notes: to reiterate: *THIS HAS ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE ELEMENTS* For those of you who prefer to read fiction that is totally canonically consistent, this probably won't be your cup of tea. For those of you who go on a season four and five bender and feel extremely frustrated afterwards (like me), hopefully this provides some relief :D

A big THANK YOU to Lionne (Lionne6 on this site), who is a fantastic editor and writer, and the master of Shamy characterization. (By the way, if you have not read her story "The Harp String Complexities," do yourself a favor and get on that pronto. You know, only if you want spot-on characterization with an insanely sexy backdrop.)

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: AU

"Oh, cut the crap, Amy. You aren't actually dating this guy; I can tell."

"I most certainly am!" Amy shot back.

Amy's cousin laughed, picking at the chicken in her salad. "They're definitely lab partners," she murmured to Amy's aunt.

Amy pursed her lips determinedly, and turned in her seat to face Sheldon. Sheldon's eyes widened as Amy smashed her open mouth against his.

Oh LORD… he thought in horror. The germs the germs the—

Something was touching him in his lower stomach, inside of his stomach. Curious. It felt like an octopus, or at least what he'd imagine one would feel like. Yes, that is precisely what it feels like. This octopus was descending, its tentacle gently brushing the tops of his intestines. But that cannot be, he thought suddenly. Goodness gracious, it felt—

Before he could process his disjointed thoughts, Amy broke away from him, wiping her mouth with as much dignity as possible, looking expectantly at her cousin.

Her cousin, along with the rest of Amy's family sitting around the table, looked on with astonishment. "Good God, Ames," her cousin blurted out. "I was just kidding. I don't care whether you and this guy go knocking on doors asking people if they've found Jesus."

Amy swallowed. "Well…as I'm sure you're now aware, we enjoy long nights of torrid lovemaking. Now, if you'll excuse me, both Sheldon and I are on the verge of field-altering discoveries. Good day."

She scooted away from the table loudly and turned on her heel to leave the restaurant. Sheldon unceremoniously followed her.

The drive back to Pasadena passed mostly in a tense silence.

"Sheldon," Amy said finally, staring straight ahead, "I…apologize for my actions tonight. I allowed my childhood rival to stir my primal competitiveness and reacted rashly."

Sheldon did not respond.

"Perhaps I should investigate Kolinar techniques?" Amy smiled suddenly, glancing his way.

Sheldon was still uncharacteristically silent and staring out the window.

After a moment he responded, "Oh, it's quite alright."

Amy stared at him. "It is?"

Sheldon nodded noncommittally.

"Oh. I'm relieved to hear that." She glanced quickly his way once more, but he was looking out the window again.

Sheldon dreamed that night that he was on a boat – not like a sailboat or a cruise boat, but something like a submarine. In his dream, he sees Amy far away, across an open space, but when he tries to walk towards her the boat begins to rock rhythmically side to side to such a degree that he can barely stand up. She doesn't make any efforts to get closer to him. He is not scared of what's happening to the boat. He doesn't feel any fear or deep desire. He patiently makes his way across the open space between them with the octopus squirming in his stomach. It's not unpleasant.

Sheldon opened his eyes, believing that he was still on the submarine, but the feeling (the octopus?) was rapidly fading. He closed his eyes again and flipped over on his side, his fingers curling around his Darth Vader pillow. Come back.

The next afternoon at lunch, Leonard spent approximately fifteen minutes attempting to brag about a sexual victory without going into any ungentlemanly detail.
Sheldon was staring off into space, unaware that he'd neglected to answer a question.
"Sheldon?" Leonard asked, perplexed.

Sheldon started slightly. "Hmm?"

Leonard shook his head. "I don't think I've ever witnessed you allow someone to suggest a different laundry schedule without cutting them off."

"Oh…that won't happen," he responded in a somewhat subdued tone.

"What the hell is wrong with you? What are you thinking about?" asked Howard suspiciously.

"Trains," Sheldon answered immediately.

Three days later

Sheldon opened his eyes. It was still dark outside – had his alarm gone off? He uncurled his knees from his chest and turned around to look at his clock. As the glowing display came into focus, something warm and slimy crept down his thigh.

His befuddlement morphed into utter horror as he realized what the substance under the covers most certainly was.

He frantically jumped out of bed, fighting the urge to burn his PJ's Thursdays were his favorites! and his bed sheets in his room. This hadn't happened for years – seven years, two days, six hours and twenty-three minutes to be exact. He'd thought that this indignity was over. Over.

Two days later

Sheldon was making his bed, a precise and arduous process. He leaned over the bed to pull the sheet even in the middle until just the edge of it touched his headboard.

Gripping the headboard, hoisting Amy's leg over your shoulder

Sheldon leaped away from the bed like it was a dirty sock. He felt ill—something was wrong with him. He had food poisoning; he just knew it. Or malaria! These were actual symptoms of malaria…in one case. Yes, it was likely malaria.

To be continued