Characters: Sheldon/Amy, Robert and Aditi
Word Count: 2211
Author's Note: This story takes place in my Shamy universe, and happens after the events of "The Connubial Catalyst." While it is not necessary to read my previous stories to understand this one, it wouldn't hurt. Written for Rubyanjel based on a Tumblr post: "Enough sexy times. I want fluff. Sweetness that can instantly rot my teeth. Cuddling, sharing his spot on the couch, sleeping in a single bed and spooning."
Disclaimer: The Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and is produced by them along with Steve Molaro. It is a Warner Brothers production and airs on CBS. All characters, plots and creative elements derived from the source material belong exclusively to their respective owners. I, the author of the fan fiction, do not, in any way, profit monetarily from the story.
Amy walks through the front door after a long day of work and is surprised to find that the house is completely dark. She pulls off her shoes—stepping on the back of each heel and wriggling her feet free—then kicks them to the side. She almost turns on the light in the foyer, but then thinks better of it. Instead, she runs her hand along the cool hallway wall, making her way deeper into the house and until she reaches the family room. Dropping her purse on the couch, she turns her head to the left and catches the time on the microwave: it's 8:27. The kids should already be in bed, but if she's lucky, she still might get a chance to kiss them goodnight before they fall asleep.
This is the tough part about being a working mother. Most nights, she's home in time to have dinner with her family, help with homework, and even get in a little downtime with the kids. Last week, however, marked the beginning of a study she is spearheading on addiction in low-functioning cephalopods (a return to a cherished project she'd had to abandon years before). As the principal investigator on the project, her presence is indispensable. Things will calm down soon, of course, but in the meantime, she's had to rely on Sheldon to double up on parenting duties while she creeps in later and later every night. She's concerned that her kids might think she puts her work ahead of them, or that they might feel abandoned. She thinks Sheldon might feel overwhelmed or resentful. She imagines she might be missing out on special moments her family may be enjoying without her.
After a moment, she turns back and then walks up the stairs. She can hear a voice, Sheldon's voice, coming from Aditi's room. She listens outside the door for a bit and hears talk of a three-headed dog. It's then that she remembers: he started reading them the first Harry Potter book the week before. When Sheldon announced his intentions to introduce the twins to the world of Hogwarts, Amy had been nervous at first; the books can be dark and haunting, and she wasn't sure the twins were old enough to handle some of the more mature themes. Sheldon had countered with the argument that, for centuries, children's authors from Hans Christian Andersen to the Brothers Grimm had created fairytales chock-full of poverty, horror, death and a disturbing lack of hand washing. Thinking back on the frightening tales she'd voraciously consumed herself as a young girl, she'd dropped the matter and lent Sheldon her Gryffindor bookmark.
But she still worries.
She worries a lot. She worries about their diets and she worries about their schoolwork. She worries about them having a healthy respect for boundaries while maintaining their sense of self-determination. She worries about their cognitive development, their moral compasses and their interpersonal relationships. There are so many things to think about and consider all the time, and she's never 100 percent sure that she's doing it all right. When it comes to the kids, though, there's one thing—one person—that she never has to worry about.
As quietly as possible, she creeps up to the partially open door and peers inside. There, Amy sees the father of her children sitting in the middle of Aditi's bed. He has The Philosopher's Stone spread open in one hand, while his other hand clutches a flashlight to illuminate the page. Their daughter sits to his right, her elbow dug deeply into his lap and her chin nestled in the palm of her hand. Their son is settled on Sheldon's left, a Batman blanket draped over his head, while his body is tilted towards his father; their shoulders rub up against each other. Both children lean forward with rapt attention, their eyes darting across the printed page in unison as Sheldon's voice gallops through the captivating tale with excitement and passion, and deftly shifts to accommodate the peculiarities of each character. Amy is surprised that, at ten years old, the twins even still want Sheldon to read them a story at bedtime. They are both champion readers and, based on a comment Amy overheard Robert making to Adam and Joel last week, she has the niggling suspicion that he's secretly finished the first three books. She could be cynical and say the custom persists because it pushes their bedtime back by at least a half hour, but she knows there's something else that gathers them here each evening. Sheldon, Aditi and Robert—as a resurrected fandom of three—relish experiencing the story together; it's enough to keep them from abandoning this ritual. Amy feels goose bumps run up her arms as she looks upon the scene, and her heart swells with admiration. With love.
Careful not to disturb them, she stealthily reverses her path, and slips back into the hall. She realizes she's thirsty, and makes her way back downstairs for a glass of water. Taking hefty gulps of the cool liquid, she decides a snack doesn't sound so bad and she rummages through the cabinets for something to munch on.
By the time she gets back to her room, story time is over, and Sheldon is in the master bath taking a shower. Amy changes out of her clothes and is on the bed before he makes it out of the tub. She wants to wait for him, but sleep is overtaking her and her eyes draw heavier with each passing moment. Just as she's on the brink of slumber, Sheldon emerges from the restroom. He's completely nude, save for a towel he's using to scrub his hair dry. It obstructs his vision, and he walks right pass the bed and over to the dresser without even realizing Amy is there. Pulling open his underwear drawer, he sighs.
"How can I possibly be out of Thursday underwear?" he moans. He rifles through the drawer again. "Wearing briefs from the Justice League on a Thursday is ridiculous."
"It wouldn't bother me," Amy says.
Her voice startles him, and he spins his head around. "You're home," he says.
"I am," she says with a nod and sits up. He smiles just a little, and she's taken at how sincerely happy he seems to see her. He turns back around and revisits his initial conundrum.
"Amy, I should have two pairs of underwear, laundered and folded, for each day of the week. Tomorrow is Thursday and is named for Thor—a character from the Avengers. However, there aren't any briefs left for Thursday but there are three for Saturday."
She goes to speak, but is distracted by the sight of his butt cheeks that perk up every time he shifts his weight. There was a time, even after they had consummated their relationship, when Sheldon was skittish about being nude in front of her. If she stumbled upon him in his birthday suit, he'd grab a robe or a nearby towel, and hurriedly wrap himself up. She doesn't remember when things changed, but… here they are.
"Why don't you wear a pair of white briefs?" she offers as a suggestion. "They are thematically neutral."
He turns to her again, considers the idea, shrugs, and puts on a pair of the so-called "tighty-whities." He then lifts his pajamas from the back of the closet door.
"And how was your day?" he asks as he buttons up the plaid flannel.
"Productive," she says. "The aquariums have all been installed and chemically balanced. All the biological testing forms have been filed. The last of the test subjects arrived today." She put on a mischievous smile. "But between me and you, I slipped in a couple starfish and may have amputated an arm or two."
Sheldon looks puzzled as he climbs into bed. "Is limb regeneration a part of the research project?"
"No," Amy says, shaking her head. "I just get a kick out of watching them grow back. Helps break up the day."
Sheldon nods and sits back against the headboard. He grabs his computer tablet from the nightstand and soon his fingers are skating across the screen. She's not sure if he's online or reading a book or playing a game. Suddenly feeling very awake, she sits up and just starts watching him.
"Dinner went okay?" she asks.
"Yes," Sheldon answers distractedly, without turning away from his tablet.
She nods. "Did Aditi finish her report on koi fish?"
He takes a second to respond. "Um," he says then pauses. "Yes."
"And Robert finished all his proofs?"
Sheldon nods slowly.
She turns away, looking for a distraction herself. She doesn't have much success in finding one and just looks down at her hands, scratching at a dry spot on the back of her thumb.
"How is Harry Potter going?" she asks, and then looks back up at him.
He doesn't answer; his eyes are fused to the screen.
"Sheldon?" she calls again. Still no answer, and it's not even nine o'clock, but she's thinking about just calling it a night.
Suddenly, Sheldon looks up with a gulp of air. It's as if he's emerged from under water and returned to the world around him. "Splendidly," he finally answers. "The children are absolutely enraptured and attached to the characters and go to bed each night with a smile on their faces. Shame. Within the month they'll be heartbroken and desolate." He lifts the tablet and hands it to Amy. "Look at what I stumbled upon last week."
"What is it?" she asks, squinting at the website in front of her. It's a video with a caption under it.
"Do you remember Dr. Charles Epstein?"
Of course Amy does. He's a rock star in her field, the Neil deGrasse Tyson of Neuroscience. He'd been invited to give the Commencement speech at Caltech a few years ago, and Amy and Sheldon had just happened run into him wandering the halls of the Biology Building. Between his speech and their encounter with him, he'd been everything they'd hoped he'd be: funny, gracious, witty and really, really smart.
"I love him," Amy says enthusiastically. When Sheldon falls silent, she looks up to find him leveling a look of displeasure at her. "Of course, not as much as I love you."
"Good to know," Sheldon mutters. "Anyhoo, one of the Film majors at the university where he teaches managed to break away from, I don't know, recording scantily clad women skipping along the beach just long enough to put his 'Arts Degree' to good use. This, Amy, is a documentary on Dr. Epstein's research on Computational Neuroscience that boasts rather snappy animation, features a video game-based soundtrack and conclusively proves why, in twenty years, people with eidetic memories will rule the world." He pauses. "If it's any consolation, I intend to make you queen."
Amy smiles at that. "Thank you, Sheldon," she says, then looks back down at the screen. "So, I take it you really like this movie."
"I don't know," he says and reaches under the covers with a grunt. He pulls out a toy rabbit and tosses it at the foot of the bed. "I haven't seen it yet. I was waiting to watch it with you."
Amy can feel her face pulling into a smile. "Really?" she says.
"Yes," Sheldon says, oblivious to how touched she is. "I figured you'd want to see it as well." He wriggles his way free from the covers and goes to rise from the bed. "If you would like, I can Bluetooth it through the television and we can watch—"
"No," Amy says, and grabs his arm. "Let's watch it right here, in bed." She grabs a remote control and then dims the lights. "It'll be cozier that way."
"Very well then," Sheldon says, and gets back under the bed sheets. He takes the tablet from her hand and props it up on a pillow.
Amy reaches for the container she brought up from the kitchen, and sets it down between them. It's a tin of Planters mixed nuts.
"I got us a snack," she says. She reaches down into the open tin, and grabs the last Brazil nut, popping it in her mouth. Sheldon looks at her and grins. Then, with his index finger, he pushes the grey arrow on the screen.
"Why did the action potential cross the optic chiasm?" says a disembodied voice (that sounds a lot like Dr. Epstein) over a fading graphic of a nerve. "To get to the other side." Amy gets the feeling that this is going to be good. She glances at Sheldon and he has that look of enthusiastic anticipation on his face.
"Thanks for waiting for me, Sheldon," she says. "I know I've been working a lot lately and—"
"Shhh," he says. "The film's started."
"Right." She turns back to the tablet, and then snuggles in closer to his body, leaning her head against his shoulder. She reaches down and takes his hand in hers. She can feel her heart calm as his fingers curl around hers and, with his free hand, he reaches into the tin and pops a handful of nuts in his mouth.