An Urgent Phone Call
Leonard, Karina and Paul were sitting together on the sofa in one of the recreation rooms on the ship, after their work for the day was finished. Leonard and Karina were both trying their best to show Paul how to play Call of Duty on the Playstation, and were having very little luck with it. Paul had apparently never been a big fan of video games, and it was clearly evident in his lacking skills with the joystick. Karina mocked him in a playful manner as he played, which only aggravated him, making him even worse at it and Leonard found himself chuckling as he watched the two of them bicker, before stepping in to cool the situation down.
Over the past two and a half weeks, these two people were the ones he found himself closest to on the ship. Paul more so, simply because he had known him from the first day he arrived and they had immediately bonded. Karina on the other hand was someone he was only really beginning to become friendly with, yet he still felt like he had known her a lot longer than he had. It occurred to him that that was probably because she was so like him in many ways. She enjoyed comic books; he had learned that when she stopped by his room and noticed his books on his desk and instantly started asking him about all sorts of stuff that only avid comic book readers like himself would know or understand. She enjoyed video games, science fiction and had a real love for superheroes. She was smart, not a genius like him, but definitely had an IQ that was higher than the average. She had a keen interest in science, stating to him that before she had fallen in love with all things computer related, she had wanted to delve into the world of physics or chemistry, due to a real passion for blowing things up. She was a nerd, just like him, and they were dragging poor Paul into their world too.
"This bloody thing is broken!" Paul whined when he was shot, again. "He isn't doing what I'm telling him to do."
"He is, you are just telling him the wrong things." Karina said with a laugh.
Leonard was about to interrupt and suggest they play something else that Paul would be a little better at, when his phone buzzed. When he checked it he saw that he had a text from Sheldon, requesting that he go on his laptop, as he had some urgent things he wanted to discuss with him.
"I've gotta go guys." Leonard said, standing up from the sofa. "Try not to kill each other while I'm gone." He chuckled before hurrying to his room.
He was a little concerned about what Sheldon had meant by the urgent things he wanted to discuss, and his head instantly wondered if it had anything to do with Penny. He found himself worrying about her a lot more often now, after her little meltdown a couple of days ago, but he quickly realized that Sheldon's idea of an urgent situation could differ completely from everyone else's. His problem could be something as silly as him being unable to decide whether to make the leap from using Windows 7 to Windows 8 on his PC. He hoped that wasn't the case; it had taken him long enough to adapt to using Windows 7, and Leonard wasn't sure he would be able to stomach the constant complaints of how the new version was obviously not designed for laptops and should be kept solely for use on tablet devices. Leonard shook his head, as he played out many other situations that Sheldon could have deemed urgent, but really weren't, and began to dread the conversation he was about to have.
The funny thing was that he had missed this feeling of dread. He hated to admit it, but he actually missed having these weird and frustrating conversations with Sheldon. He missed hearing his little rants about anything from a television programme, to his work, to insisting that the company that made his favourite cereal had changed something in their ingredients without specifying such changes on the box, because he could taste just a little more corn in his cornflakes, and he was never wrong about such things.
Leonard had even stuck to his bathroom schedule, through nothing other than habit, freaking his roommate out big time. He had tried to explain to Paul about Sheldon and his weird ways, but as soon as he got started he changed his mind, realizing that even if he did manage to successfully describe his best friend's quirks, Paul would simply never understand him or his ways.
So, even as Leonard worried slightly over what his friend was going to be complaining about, he couldn't help but feel a little excited over the prospect of talking to him.
He unlocked his door and headed inside, resisting the urge to throw his keys to the side like he usually would back home, because there was no bowl there to catch them and they would just fall to the floor. Instead, he held on to them and sat them on his desk as he sat down on the chair and opened up his laptop. Almost as soon as he had opened up the Skype icon, his computer began to sing.
"Hello Sheldon." Leonard said once he had answered his call. "Long time, no speak!"
"Hello Leonard." Sheldon said, and then frowned. "And it has hardly been a long time, we spoke three days ago."
"True, but it is longer than usual. So how are you?"
"I don't have time for benign chit chat Leonard. We can go through the tedious process some other time, but right now I am in need of your assistance."
Leonard sighed and shook his head, already wondering what it was that he had said he missed about this guy. "Alright, what is it you want?"
"Well, Amy's birthday is coming up and I am required to take her for dinner. She has requested that I make the night both romantic and intimate."
"So you have to help me."
"Me?" Leonard asked with shock. "You want me to help you?"
"Yes. You have endured plenty of these romantic dinners with Penny and she has yet to cast you off again, so you must be doing something right and I want to know what it is so I can replicate that for Amy."
"Why?" Leonard asked with his brow slightly furrowed.
"I told you; because Amy requested it."
"Yeah, but there are plenty of other things she has requested you do, and you haven't done them. So what's changed now?"
Sheldon was a little taken back. He hadn't expected those words to come from his friends mouth, he had simply expected him to agree and help him without question. He thought over the best way to answer that question. What's changed now? Why did he suddenly feel the need to give Amy just what she had asked for? The only answer he could come up with made him uneasy. Because he wanted to.
He wanted to give her a night that she would enjoy. He wanted to buy her a gift that would light up her face like it did when he had given her that tiara. He wanted to treat his girlfriend to a wonderful evening. He wanted to do it, because she asked it from him, and the last thing he wanted to do was disappoint her. He hated those moments when her face would fall and she would drop her head in a disheartened manner and he wasn't going to let her feel like that on her birthday. He wanted to do it, because he cared about her.
"Well?" Leonard asked on the other side of the laptop, jolting Sheldon from his daydream.
"Nothing has changed Leonard. I am the same person I always have been, and always will be." Sheldon began, although he wondered for a second if he was really being honest, making his eye twitch just a tad. He took a breath and continued, "I simply want to give Amy the birthday dinner that she expects from me, and one that she will enjoy."
"Alright," Leonard said with a little hesitancy in his tone. "What do you want to know?"
"Well, I am fairly confident with most of it. I have already picked out a nice restaurant-"
"Which one?" Leonard interrupted.
"The new Italian one a few blocks away."
"Does it have a place to dance?"
"To dance?" Sheldon asked with surprise. "We are going to dinner Leonard, not a rave."
"Yes, I know." He replied, rolling his eyes. "I don't mean rave dancing; I mean nice, slow, romantic dancing."
"Like a waltz?"
"Yes, like a waltz."
"Hmm." Sheldon replied, leaning back in his chair. "I don't know…I suppose there could be a spot for dancing, but even if there is it will make no difference; I don't dance."
"But it's her birthday!"
"So, you should dance with her on her birthday. Especially if there are other people up dancing."
Sheldon frowned, unimpressed with this turn of events. "I hate dancing."
"Yes but this isn't about you is it? It's about Amy, and giving her a special evening."
Sheldon let out a defeated sigh. He had got him there. "Fine, what else?"
"Um…" Leonard said, chewing on his lip as he thought. "You should probably get her flowers and give them to her when you pick her up… Oh and remember and tell her she looks pretty when she answers her door. I know you are pretty much blind to all that stuff but trust me, they love it."
"When I pick her up?" Sheldon asked, deciding to ignore the rest of his friends statement, because the fact he had said he was 'blind' to Amy's beauty only made him realize just how much he had changed over the past few weeks. He wasn't blind to her beauty anymore, he saw it as if it were being shone down on him like a spotlight.
"Yes, you can't expect her to drive."
"Why not? She usually drives us to our dinner dates."
"But it's her birthday. She will probably want to have a glass of wine or two, and anyway, it is customary for the man to escort his lady to important dinners like this, so you really have no choice."
"But how am I going to take her? I don't drive." Sheldon said and then a thought popped into his mind. "I'll just ask Penny. I'm sure she will take us. Anything else?"
"Not really. Not that I can think of. You know, you really should have asked Raj, he knows this stuff better than I do."
"I never thought of that." He said looking slightly into the distance, and then shrugged, "Oh well, I'm sure what you have told me will suffice. Thank you."
"You're welcome. Just remember and be nice, okay? It's her birthday, you have to treat her like she is the most important woman in the world." Leonard smiled, "So for one night, try not to be the crazy, neurotic and weird Sheldon and be the sweet, nice Sheldon that we all know is buried in there somewhere."
Sheldon frowned. "I am not crazy-"
"I know, your mother had you tested." Leonard said with a sigh. "Hold on, did you get her a gift?"
"Not yet, but I spent a long time searching the internet yesterday for gift ideas and I think I have found the perfect thing."
"What is it?"
"I'm not telling you."
"Because you will tell Penny, and Penny will tell Amy, and it will no longer be a surprise."
"I won't tell her!"
"I wish I could believe that Leonard, I really do." He said, shaking his head.
"Alright." Leonard huffed and sat back in his chair. "And while we are on the subject, can I ask you a favour?"
"As your friend I am obligated to say yes."
"Great. Will you keep an eye on Penny for me?"
Sheldon frowned. "Keep an eye on her?"
"Yeah. She got pretty upset a couple of days ago, I just want to know that she's okay."
"You want me to spy on her?"
"No Sheldon, I want you to pay attention to her. If you see that she looks down or upset, be nice to her and comfort her, since I can't do it."
"Leonard, that is quite a task you are asking of me."
"I know. I know you are horrible at reading social ques and are even worse at being comforting." Leonard sighed and rubbed at his temples. "Just promise me you will try. I worry about her."
"Alright, I will try."
"Thank you. I appreciate it."
Sheldon smiled, "You're welcome." He glanced down at his watch. "Now, I need to go. I have to go and collect Amy's gift. Goodbye Leonard."
"Bye Sheldon." Leonard replied and they both hung up.
As soon as Sheldon was away from his screen, Leonard slumped back into his chair and let out a sigh. He hoped that Sheldon saw the real concern in his eyes as he asked about Penny, and hoped that he really would do his best to keep an eye on her. He was worried about her and he simply wanted to know that she was okay. He smiled as his mind drifted to Sheldon and his pending date with Amy, and although Sheldon had insisted that he had not changed and never would, Leonard could see such a difference in him already. Sheldon had never cared about birthdays. Heck, he had known Leonard for almost a decade and he couldn't think of a single decent birthday gift he had gotten him. He had always hated the process, so much so that he often just dismissed it completely. It was only when Penny had come into their lives that he even opened up to the idea at all. Leonard's smile grew wider. It was funny to think how much that one girl, moving in to the apartment beside theirs, changed their lives so drastically. Not just his, all of theirs.
He glanced at the framed picture, sitting beside his laptop on his desk, of him and Penny. His smile faded and his head dropped slightly, as a stab of pain hit his chest. It was a pain he had been feeling for the past few days, and one that grew with each day that passed. He missed her. He closed his eyes and tried to focus his mind back on to Sheldon and how different he was, just to take that pain away. He thought over the idea of him being romantic, of handing Amy a bouquet of flowers and escorting her to dinner like a gentleman would. He thought about how he had never imagined that Sheldon would care enough about another human being to put his wants and needs second to theirs, because in Sheldon's mind, he always came first.
But that only made him think about how much he missed taking Penny out for dinner, treating her like the princess she was and giving her almost anything she wanted, just to make her happy.
His heart grew heavy once more and he removed his glasses to rub at his eyes and forehead. He stayed like this for a few seconds as he tried to calm the lump growing in his throat, when his room door swung open, making him jump in his chair.
"What the- Oh, hey Paul." He said as he fumbled to put his glasses back on.
"You alright?" He asked. "You've been gone for ages."
"Yeah." He replied, clearing his throat. "I'm fine."
Paul eyed him suspiciously, not believing that he was fine at all, but sensed he probably shouldn't push him to tell him what was bothering him. "We were just about to play pool, you up for a game?" He asked.
"Yeah, sure." Leonard smiled, glad that he had friends around him to keep his mind off of Penny, until tonight at least, when he knew all these thoughts would come back to the surface, and give him that ache again.