Sorry this took so long to get out! I've become very easily distracted lately. Blame a mixture of work, going out, excitement for the new season starting (yay!) and twitter. They have each had a part to play in these chapters taking so long to come out! Anyway, i hope you enjot it and remember those reviews my lovelies ;)

'One Hug'

Penny and Sheldon walked up the stairs together, both of them wearing their camouflage paintball gear, both of them covered in paint, and both of them slumped over, making their defeat that day all the more obvious.

"You do realize if we had stuck to my plan, we wouldn't have lost today." Sheldon whined as they walked from the second to third floor.

"Your plan?" Penny replied, eyes wide. "Your plan consisted of you staying inside the hideout while Howard, Raj and I done all the work!"

"Yes, and if we had stuck to that plan, I wouldn't have gotten shot. Four times. Once on my shoulder." He touched his left hand to his throbbing right shoulder. "That is going to bruise by the way."

Rolling her eyes, she replied, "Sheldon, sweetie, keep on complaining and you will have more than one bruise to complain about."

Sheldon frowned in Penny's direction and she glared back, letting him know that she wasn't kidding.

"Anyway, you're not the only one that got hit." She added as she rubbed at the paint stain on the small of her back that covered what she was sure would soon be a huge bruise.

When they reached their floor Penny headed towards her door, turning around once she was a few feet away, her keys jingling in her hand. "So, what are your plans tonight Sheldon?"

"Well, today is the third Thursday of the month, so-"

"Ahh, date night." She replied with a nod, before a longing expression filled her face. "I miss date night."

Frowning, Sheldon turned to her. "You were never a part of date night."

"Not your date night." Penny rolled her eyes and shook her head, "My own date nights; with Leonard." She grinned, "You know, going out for dinner, going dancing or for walks in the park or the beach… Oh!" She said, excitement flooding her, "Or going to the fun fair! I used to love going to the fair with him! He was always so scared of the big rides," She laughed, "It was so adorable, and he would spend ages on those silly games trying to win the big soft toys. Oh and-" Penny stopped talking when she took note of just how excited she was getting, as well as the unimpressed frown upon Sheldon's face. "Nevermind... So... what are you doing for your date night?"

Sheldon thought hard for a few seconds, "I'm not sure." He replied, before his face suddenly broke into a wide grin. "All I know is that Amy is coming over and she is making me spaghetti with the little hot dogs cut up in it."

"Wow, that sounds like fun." She replied, sarcasm dripping throughout her tone. It certainly didn't sound like what she would consider a 'fun' night, but she couldn't help but feel a tad jealous. Her evening wasn't going to be spent with anyone. She was going to eat dinner on her own and watch television on her own until later on in the evening when she and Leonard had agreed to Skype. Right now, Sheldon, the almost insufferable weirdo that lived across the hall from her, had a better social life than she did.

"It will be fun." Sheldon smiled, completely oblivious to the sarcasm she had said those words with. "Its spaghetti with hot dogs cut up in it." He repeated excitedly before opening his door. "Goodbye Penny."

"Bye Sheldon." Penny replied with a hint of a laugh at how excited he got over the silliest things, before forgetting about it and going home.

Once inside his apartment, Sheldon headed straight for the shower to wash off any dirt or paint that his skin may have had contact with and then he headed for his spot and turned on the television, settling on watching re-runs of Doctor Who until Amy arrived.

He was quite contented sitting there on his own with nothing but the television keeping him company. He had finally gotten used to spending most of his time in that apartment alone, although there were still moments when he missed the presence of his best friend. He did sort of miss the idle chatter, however he was beginning to really enjoy having the apartment to himself. He no longer had to suffer through any of Leonard's programmes, Babylon 5 being the main culprit, and he no longer had to fight to keep the rules of the roommate agreement in-tact.

He saw less of Howard and Raj, which depending on his mood, could be both a good and bad thing. Most of Howard's free time was now spent taking Raj to various bars and trying to show him how to pick up girls, well, as much as Howard could actually show him anyway. However, he saw a lot more of Amy, and Penny for that matter, although his time spent with Amy was without a doubt much more pleasant.

Tonight was going to be their third date night - including Amy's birthday dinner - that they would spend together since Leonard had left and he was quite looking forward to it. Not just because of Amy's promise to cook him his favourite meal, but simply because he was looking forward to spending time with her.

As he sat, he wondered how they would spend their evening. He had suggested that they spend the evening at the cinema, without objection to any hand-holding that Amy may have wanted to participate in, but she had declined. He had to admit he was disappointed, mainly because it still bothered him that she had seen the new Superman movie when he hadn't, and he was hoping they could fix that tonight. Although, as he looked off in the direction of the window to the 6 foot Superman cut-out standing proudly in front of it, he had to admit he was happy she had gotten him a souvenir from her experience. He looked so cool, looking over the apartment from his spot in the corner. Leonard would be pleased with the new addition, he was sure of it.

The lack of planning for the evening was strange, because Amy almost always had something in mind for them to do, but today she had told him nothing of any plans, except from the detail of his spaghetti dinner. At least that excluded the possibility that she wanted to go out for dinner.

The last time she had done this, was over a year ago when she set out on her agenda of making him more attached to her. Sheldon shook his head as he breathed a small laugh, little did he know at the time, just how well that plan of hers would work.

Maybe her plan for this evening included furthering that agenda. Maybe by making him his favourite meal again, she was hoping to cement his attachment to her. Sheldon panicked for a split second before shrugging it off, if that was her plan, so be it. At least he would be getting a good meal out of it.

Minutes later, a knock on his door pulled him from his deep thoughts. He glanced at his watch, certain that she must be early because he had barely felt the time move since he had gotten back from paintball with Penny, but upon inspection, he saw that she was on time. A few minutes late in fact. He should chastise her for that, he thought as he walked up and opened the door.

"Hello Sheldon, sorry I'm late!" Amy exclaimed as she walked past him and straight to the kitchen to put down the good-sized glass bowl full of pasta. "I had to do my duty as best-friend and check on Penny before I came over."

Sheldon had barely been listening to her, too caught up in the wonderful aromas of the food that was inside that bowl. "Oh, that's alright." He said as he shut his door, and then frowned as he registered his answer. His own complacency towards her tardiness surprised him, but once again, he shrugged it off.

"I see you have finally decided on a spot for Superman." Amy said as she put the cold pasta in the oven to be heated.

"Ah, yes. It took some time but I'm finally satisfied." He replied as he followed her to the kitchen. "He certainly is a great addition to what Howard would call 'Nerdvana'. Thank you."

"You're welcome. I thought he would fit in better here, he just didn't seem at home in my apartment. Anyway, he would only serve as a climbing post to any of the test monkeys I brought home so at least he won't get his face scratched off here."

Sheldon nodded knowingly. He had seen how Amy had tried to fit the large figure in her home and he had to agree, he just seemed out of place. "So, what is the plan for tonight?"

"There is no plan." Amy shrugged as Sheldon eyed her suspiciously. "What?" She asked as he continued to eye her and then sighed, "Fine. There is one thing I would like to discuss."

Sheldon nodded. "I knew that you were up to something Amy Farrah Fowler!" He said triumphantly as he moved to sit on his spot and awaited whatever it was she wanted to discuss.

Amy followed suit and sat in the spot beside Sheldon, taking off her shoulder bag as she sat down. "Alright, well as you know a few weeks ago you presented me with Sheldon Cooper Coupons."

"Yes." He cautiously nodded as his stomach began to churn slightly. He had almost forgotten about those.

"Well, I would like to use up my first one." She said as she reached into her bag and pulled out the laminated set of cards and handed him one.

"One hug?" He asked as he studied the card.


"You're sure this is the one you would like to begin with?" Sheldon asked, hoping he could change her mind to one of the others; one of the easier ones. "The one with an evening watching a movie seems particularly intriguing right now... Not that it would be my choice, but, I happen to know that Wolverine has recently been released and you ask anyone; that is a hot date." Sheldon finished with a hopeful grin.

"No. This is the one I choose." Amy boldly replied.

"Alright." Sheldon sighed, "I assume you remember the 48 hour rule which states that this cannot be carried out for another two days."

"I do. In fact I am willing to give you more than 48 hours. I will come over on Sunday evening." The second Amy stopped talking, the oven made a pinging sound, indicating that the pasta inside it was done.

"Okay, I guess I have no choice but to agree." He said with a shrug as he and Amy made their way to the kitchen. "Mmm, this smells good!" He said with a childlike grin as he excitedly stared at the food as Amy pulled it out of the oven and began to plate it up.

The rest of their evening was spent eating their dinner, watching television and having in depth discussions about almost anything. It was completely unlike a usual date night at all, in fact, it was a night similar to those they had almost every other day. It was a relaxing evening, with no pressure for either of them.

A few hours passed before they said their goodbyes at the door, knowing that in a matter of hours, she would be back in that spot again, picking him up to take him to work, and both of them were more than happy about that.

Amy left the apartment that evening, feeling much more at ease than when she had arrived. She had been on edge about bringing up the coupons, because ever since the moment Sheldon had given them to her, not a word had been said about them. It had gone better than she had expected though. There had been barely any resistance from him, which sort of made sense, since the coupons were his idea. That had to mean he had anticipated actually doing each and every one of them at some point.

Walking to her car, her grin widened as she wondered which one she would use next, before quickly stopping her own train of thought, willing herself not to get carried away and focus on the one she had just presented first.

She wondered how it would be, if Sheldon would be nervous or if he would treat it just like he would some scientific experiment. She didn't care really, all she wanted was for him to try. For all he knew, he may end up liking it.

Leonard entered his room after he had finished up in his lab, just a little after five o'clock, and let out a deep sigh as soon as his door was shut and he saw that his room was empty.

He hated this part of the day. He hated leaving his lab and coming back here, especially when the room was as it was now; empty. His temporary home wasn't exactly the worst place in the world, it had all the amenities he could want, a few friends to keep him sane and a good amount of space that allowed him some time to breathe when he needed it, but it lacked the warmth and comfort of back home.

It was in these moments that certain things would hit him, reminding him of what he missed back in Pasadena. Simple things, like that little bowl at the side of his door that he could throw his keys into as soon as he walked into his apartment, and important things, like Penny and his friends. It was a feeling that had been growing in him over the past couple of weeks, and one that he felt right now, almost seven weeks into his trip, was at its worst, although he was sure it wasn't going to get any easier.

He never knew quite what to do with himself at this time. The excitement of getting to know his surroundings, spending time in different places and exploring the ship, was gone. He had been everywhere, he had done everything and the novelty of it had worn off, leaving him to dwell over thoughts of what he would be doing if he were at home.

Walking in from work, back in Pasadena, he would have had Sheldon in his ear, yattering away about something or other as they settled back into their apartment, before he would either leave to see Penny, or she would come to him; her work schedule permitting of course. If it was one of those days when Penny was working, he would have either hung out with Sheldon, relaxed on his sofa with one of his favourite programmes, or Howard or Raj, or maybe even both of them would have come over and they may have played some board or card game together. There was always something happening back home, which just made these moments even more empty.

Leonard removed his laptop bag from around his shoulder and placed it on the floor beside his desk before going to sit on the edge of his bed. Taking in a few breaths, he looked around his shared room for inspiration on how to fill the hours in between now and going to sleep. It was always easier when he had a Skype call planned with Penny in the evening. In fact it was easier when he had a Skype call planned with anyone in the evening. It always gave him something to look forward too, but today, he had nothing. He already had his call with Penny this morning, and although he knew he could call her if he wanted; he felt that he shouldn't. It would be Friday morning back in Pasadena, and he didn't want to wake her up early on one of the days she got to sleep in; he knew how much she loved her sleep, and he knew how much she was missing her lie ins now that she had Sheldon to cater to every now and again.

Standing up from his bed, he walked over to the small living area that consisted of a sofa and a television. He sat down and turned on the television before flicking through the channels, looking for something – anything – that he could watch to pass the time. The television signal still wasn't at its best though, so he only had a few channels to choose from, and neither one interested him at all. Turning the television off and standing up again, he walked over to his desk and sat down before pulling his laptop out of his bag. As he sat it on his desk and waited on it to boot up, he relaxed back in his chair as his eyes wandered over to the various happy photographs of his friends and loved ones back home, that were scattered across the table. Leonard suddenly felt his whole body sink. His stomach fell and his chest tightened and in that second, he almost choked up.

All those photographs did, was remind him that the time he was spending alone right now, was time that would usually be shared with at least one of those people, and that made him feel as cold and empty as this room was. He felt alone, truly alone for the first time since he entered this ship, even although he was surrounded by people.

He had Paul; his lively and talkative roommate that he was beginning to consider a real friend. Paul would almost constantly talk to him about absolutely anything, still managing to make him laugh with all the odd phrases he would use, and that would usually keep his mind occupied for much of the rest of the day, stopping him from falling into a pit of loneliness, a little like what he was beginning to do now.

He had Karina too. Even with all the trouble his friendship with her had caused, he was still glad he had her around. He was almost certain he would have gotten sick of Paul by now if he didn't have Karina to run off to every now and again, plus she was the only one he could indulge his nerdy side with.

He had colleagues too, people that he worked on his experiments with, people that he enjoyed spending time with and would almost consider friends too. Most of his time on this ship, was time that he enjoyed with all those people. He loved the fact that he was out here doing experiments in the middle of the sea, working for one of the greatest minds in the world, and while he was working in his lab, these sorts of things didn't bother him. It was only in these quiet, lonely moments that he would crave the presence of not only his girlfriend, but his closest friends too.

He missed Sheldon. That was something that still surprised him. After spending a good part of his life being around him, working to his schedule and doing things for and with him, he found that not having him here and dependant on him, was… odd. He missed the long winded explanations of the simplest things. He missed being challenged by him and to some extent he missed the teasing he would give him, telling Leonard, without a shadow of a doubt, that he was the smartest man alive and that he, Leonard, would never even come close to being as brilliant as him. It was an odd thing to miss, but still, the egotistical rants were part of who Sheldon was, and he couldn't deny he missed it.

He missed Howard and Raj too; watching the two of them bicker, weirdly, like an old married couple was something that had kept him entertained for years. For a second he wondered what it would be like going back, and being able to see Raj talk, completely sober, whilst Penny or any of the girls were in the room. He had gotten a taste of it when they had played Dungeons and Dragons with Karina, and even then it was weird.

And then there was Penny. She was the one he was reminded of most, and the one, without a doubt, that he missed the most. She was the one his mind instantly went to when he woke up, wishing that she was there beside him. He would wake up almost craving the feeling of her sleeping body beside his, his heart breaking when it dawned on him he couldn't get it. He missed falling asleep with her beside him, making gentle patterns on his chest and nuzzling her face into his neck. He craved her soft touch, her sweet smell and the warmth of her body; things that he just couldn't get over the phone or laptop. He missed taking her out, doing things with her; even when it was the things he hated. He missed laughing with her, arguing with her, kissing her, holding her, and making love to her. He missed snuggling up on the sofa with her as they watched a movie together, and he missed sitting across from her as they ate dinner together.

Over the past few months they had spent so much time together, doing all of those things. They had been almost inseparable and it was like she had been ripped away from him, and it was beginning to take its toll.

Leonard leant forward in his chair, took the framed picture of the both of them from his desk and held it in his lap as he stared longingly down on it. There wasn't a thing he wouldn't give to have her arms wrapped around him and her cheek on his right now; just like they were in that picture. Leonard gave a small sigh as he traced his thumb over the photograph, imagining in his mind that it was her skin his thumb was touching and not the glass of the frame in front of him.

Taking in a deep breath, he put the photograph back down before standing up to retrieve his phone. He needed to speak to her, he needed to hear her voice in his ear and right now, he didn't care whether he woke her up or not. He needed something to pick him up before he sunk even further into the pit of loneliness, and she was the only remedy he had.

As he picked up his bag and hurriedly searched within it for the small object, his door opened and Paul walked in.

"Hey." Paul said with a grin as he closed the door behind him.

"Oh, hey." Leonard replied, "you just finished work?"

"Yeah." He nodded as he headed over to his bed and pulled out a small backpack from under it. "I'm just about to go down to the gym. You wanna come?" He asked as he went to his drawers and began to rifle through them.

Leonard frowned. This was a question Paul had posed to him for the past two weeks, and each time he had declined. It baffled him that he still bothered to ask. "Um, no. I'm okay, thanks." He replied before continuing to search for his phone in his bag.

Paul stopped looking in his drawers and looked stubbornly at Leonard. "Come on man. You can't stay cooped up in here all day. You'll drive yourself mad. You've gotta get some exercise."

"I do get exercise." He protested.

"Walking from your lab to here doesn't count."

"Well it should! It's a long walk!"

"Seriously Leonard," Paul huffed, "what are you going to be doing if you don't come with me?"

"Uh… Um…" Leonard stuttered, trying to search his mind for something that he could pretend he had planned for the evening.

"Uhh… Uhh..." Paul teased. "Yeah, that's what I thought. Just come with me for once. You might as well do something with your spare time that doesn't involve comics or video games or pining for your girlfriend." Leonard frowned, and Paul gave a small smile, letting him know he was only joking. "Listen, I've been there. Okay?" He said, suddenly becoming very serious. "I remember the first time I had to spend months away from my girlfriend. It's hard, but sitting around on your arse doing nothing all day doesn't make it any easier. Come with me, it will take your mind off it for a while."

Leonard began to soften. The words he spoke making sense, but the idea of going to the gym was still one that filled him with dread. "I'm not good at the gym." He sighed, "I've tried it before and almost had a heart attack."

"Alright then." Paul replied with a hint of a chuckle. "Can you swim?"

"...Barely." He mumbled.

"Fine, that's it sorted. We'll go swimming."

Leonard wanted to continue to protest, but if there was one thing he had come to know about Paul, it was that he was almost as stubborn as Penny could be. "Fine." Leonard grumbled as he put his bag back on the floor. "But I didn't bring any swimwear."

"That's cool you can borrow some of mines. Speedos okay?"

Leonard squirmed and Paul broke into laughter. "I'm only joking man, lighten up! Now come on, pack a towel, and remember your inhaler. I don't want you to collapse in the water and drown. I don't wanna have to give you mouth to mouth. I like you, but not that much!"