Summary: Self-explanatory. Five early near-misses between the Shamy, and the time theyfinally came face to face. Spoilers for Seasons 1 – 3.
Word Count: 3815
Author's Note: This fic is part a collaboration between fanfic writers FoxPhile, Lionne6, LostInTheSun, Musickat18, WeBuiltThePyramids, and XMarisolX. Each author has written a fic that, together, make up the collection. It was inspired by a fantastic idea Lio came up with during a discussion in the Shamy thread at FanForum.
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. The authors of this fan fiction, do not, in any way, profit monetarily from the story.
Getting into the car after work, Leonard buckled himself in and silently scoured his memory for something—anything—new along the route he and Sheldon took home. Most days, they entertained themselves by playing one of their favorite road games, and if they were going to play I Spy again, it wouldn't be easy; they'd "spied" every leaf, building, and port-a-potty that could possibly be seen. They were pulling out of the parking lot when Sheldon suddenly spoke.
"Leonard," he said, his voice sharp with displeasure, "I went down to the campus library today and—predictably—had a positively loathsome conversation with Mrs. Carpelli."
Of course, some days, they just bitched about how rough the day had been.
"Hopefully this time," Leonard said, "you referred to her as the Media Center Specialist and not the 'book babysitter."
"I did," Sheldon replied, "although frankly I don't know what all the fuss was about. I was being generous, if you ask me; I don't believe she even does that."
"Regardless, you have to call people by their official titles, Sheldon."
"Well, little good it did me," Sheldon said. "She still demonstrated her classic, obstinate, arrogant attitude."
"I guess it takes one to know one," Leonard muttered. The statement earned him a harsh look.
"With friends like you, Leonard, I often ask myself why I even bother with mortal enemies at all."
Leonard exhaled deeply, and then pursed his lips. "Fine. What happened?"
"Well," Sheldon began, "I simply told her that I found it nothing short of reprehensible that among the library's catalog—and audaciously housed among children's literature, to boot—was a tale that not only endorsed midday sloth and the consumption of cottage cheese—the rankest food in the world—but that additionally terrified young children through the insertion of a monstrous arachnid. I implored her to extricate the horrid tale from the library immediately."
"What did she say?" Leonard asked.
"She didn't even consider my suggestion."
"The nerve!" Leonard said, sarcasm dripping from each word.
"Indeed," Sheldon said. "That kind of inflexibility has no place in a service position."
"Well, if I'm being honest," Leonard said, "I'm pretty sure you're the only person in the world that has a problem with the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet."
Sheldon scoffed at the notion. "Nonsense. It is a grisly tale that has haunted arachnophobes for centuries. I guess next you'll have me believe that I'm 'the only person in the world' outraged that Caltech's wi-fi only extends to a few feet outside the building."
Leonard considered it a moment. "Actually, that kinda makes sense to me. During last week's fire drill, I couldn't even check my MySpace page on my iPod."
Sheldon was incensed. "Well, rest assured that tomorrow I'll be filing a formal complaint with the IT depar—HOLD ON!"
Startled, Leonard looked over at his riding companion, whose face and entire demeanor were plagued with his trademark brand of exaggerated horror.
"What?!" Leonard asked.
"We're going the wrong way."
"Actually, we're not," Leonard said.
"We most certainly are. Even you should know that the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line, and this circuitous route is anything but. Granted, truly taking the shortest route would require us to plow through various homes in that residential subdivision to our left and, even if we were to survive the incident, we would be in considerable financial and legal trouble, a fact which obliges us to follow the shortest route possible while still complying with government-sanctioned roads. That means we should have gone down Avery Street and then made a left onto Maines Blvd before finally veering off onto Los Robles Ave."
"You're right. That is the shortest route home," Leonard said.
"I know it is."
"Only thing is," Leonard said, "we're not going home."
Sheldon snapped his head to Leonard. "Then where are we going?" His question was answered before it was scarcely out of his mouth.
"Here," Leonard said, and pulled off into a parking lot. A glowing neon sign above the building read "Blix Music Emporium."
"Hey, Sam," Leslie said as she entered the building. A jingle bell sounded as the door shut behind her. The store's owner—a man in his early thirties, crowned with a disheveled mop of coal black hair and wearing a grey Henley with camouflage cargo shorts—came out from the supply room.
"Hey Leslie," he said, leaning on the counter. "How've you been?"
"Professionally, I've had some real successes lately," she answered, nodding.
"Cool," Sam said.
"Though, personally," Leslie continued, "I've been largely sexually frustrated."
"Despite the proliferation of penises in my field, suitable sexual partners are very hard to come by."
Sam dry heaved a little at that unwelcomed detail. "Um, you can just say 'fine' next time."
"Noted," Leslie said. "And how's the little bastard?"
"If you are referring to my son and, uh, your nephew," Sam said. "He's fine."
"Great. That's good to hear."
"Also, and I'm pretty sure I've said this before, I'd prefer it if you called him by his name and not by the fact that me and his mom aren't together."
Leslie lifted her head slightly, somehow surprised. "Oh," she said. "You mean the fact that I called him a bastard? Well you should know that some of the greatest humans ever to walk this planet were illegitimately born: Leonardo da Vinci, Queen Elizabeth I, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey all come to mind."
Sam was not appeased, and he took on a sarcastic tone. "Whatever you say, Leslie."
"Of course, so was John Wilkes Booth, so you know, it's a mixed bag."
"Are you talking about bastards?"
Both Sam and Leslie turned to the right of the store to find an unknown woman standing there. She was unremarkable except for her poorly matched clothes, orthopedic shoes and a single hair clip fastened on the left side of her hair. A wide strap that was attached to an unwieldy purse crossed her chest like a seatbelt.
"I only asked because bastardy—a term derived from 15th Century British property law—is a fascinating topic."
"Apparently so," Sam muttered, turning his face away.
"There was a time when being born outside of wedlock condemned one to a life haunted by the public stigma of uncertain parentage, inferior education, social ridicule and financial disadvantage. However, in the Western world, the importance of marriage prior to childbirth is rapidly fading, and in many countries in Europe the majority of children are born outside the confines of matrimony. If I may ask," she continued, with humorless poise, "are either of you a bastard?"
"Depends on who you ask," Sam said with a smirk.
"If you are indeed the product of an unwed union and are willing to participate in a study," she continued, "I would be very interested in bringing you to my lab and hooking you up to electrodes so I could get an electroencephalograph of your brain while you recount some of the more agonizing aspects of your desolate childhood—a childhood you labored through without a father who valued your mother enough to make an honest woman out of her." She leaned forward, speaking more quietly. "If you could manage to sob loudly or rend your clothes in grief, it would be even more helpful."
Just then, the chorus of the song "Daughter" could be heard coming somewhere from the vicinity of the woman's bosom. She didn't seem to care, or even notice.
"I think your phone is ringing," Sam said.
"I am aware," she said, nodding once. "It's my mother."
"Oh, I get it," Sam said. "Her ringtone is 'Daughter' because you're her, well, daughter."
"Um, no," she said, seemingly bewildered by this association. "Because the song is by Pearl Jam, and my mother often wears pearls and makes a rather tasty boysenberry jam."
"Of course," Sam said.
"Who cares?!" Leslie said. "Just answer the damn thing."
"No," the woman said. "When my mother calls me at this hour—and not at our established time of 7:00 in the evening—it is because she's having a coffee break and seeks to chat with me about some tedium that I find no interest in."
The phone stopped ringing.
"It could have been an emergency," Sam said.
"A possibility," she said with a shrug, "but statistically unlikely."
Leslie had heard enough. "Who are you?" she asked.
"Amy Farrah Fowler," she replied cheerfully, her chin up and her eyes closed. "I'm a neurobiological researcher at UCLA and an amateur harpist."
"Great," Leslie said. "Just what the world needs: more mad scientists armed with stringed-instruments."
"Returning to my original offer," the woman now known as Amy said, "If you are considering participating in my fledgling study, I could literally sweeten the deal by offering you a promotional card I won from a local juice bar that would afford you a lifetime supply of free tapioca smoothies."
Leslie looked back at her with profound confusion. "Why the hell would I want a lifetime supply of tapioca smoothies?"
Amy craned her neck forward, astonished by the question. "The benefits of tapioca are well founded and celebrated the world over," she explained. "Though the substance chiefly consists of carbohydrates, it is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, while simultaneously rich in folic acid, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. It's very nutritional."
"So is semen," Leslie replied, "but that doesn't mean I want to eat it every day."
Sam intervened. "I'm sorry, um…" He groped for her name.
"Amy," she reminded him.
"Amy, could I actually assist you with something?"
"No, no," Amy said, awkwardly rocking back and forth. "I'll just return to the corner where I was at first, standing idly by—coy and aloof—while secretly hoping that some reckless band of young, female musicians comes along and offers me the chance to join their world traveling rock band. Sure, hanging out with a group of tattooed hooligans would break my mother's heart, but it would give me the distinction of being the first famous musician with a pet monkey who actually knows how to dissect its brain."
Leslie's face of hostile bewilderment was replaced with a stunning look of realization.
"I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out where I've met you before," she said, wagging her finger, "but I finally figured it out: you remind me of this guy I work with."
"Then he must be quite a charming young fellow."
"If you like dumbasses," Leslie said.
Sam had to end this conversation, and fast. He found the brain scientist annoying, sure, but Leslie's droll insults was going to make him lose a potential customer.
"If you are interested in meeting musicians, Amy," he said, "we have Open Mic Night out back on Fridays. Musicians play, sing, sometimes even get noticed. You should come back then. Maybe you'll meet that band of female hooligans after all."
Amy considered the suggestion and responded with a muted smile. "Thank you for the tip. I think I might take you up on the invitation."
"Great," he said. "I recommend that—"
But before Sam could finish, and without a farewell of any sort, she was heading for the door.
"Why would we be coming here?" Sheldon asked with same level of terror he would have shown if Leonard had pulled up to a brothel.
"I'm meeting Leslie here," Leonard said, taking his keys out of the ignition. "We're getting ready for our quartet rehearsal tomorrow."
"Oh dear," Sheldon said, turning his head in dismay. "This is not just some thinly veiled ploy to begin a coital relationship with her is it?"
"Of course not!" Leonard said. "Leslie and I are just friends. We're meeting because it's been a while since I've played my cello, and I need some new strings. Besides, she knows the guy who owns this place and, apparently, he has a kid by her older sister and so gives her a discount when she comes in."
Sheldon shook his head, appalled. "Is there any aspect to the life of that scientific imposter that is not tainted with lurid tales of illicit intercourse?"
Leonard rolled his eyes and got out. He waited a second for Sheldon to get out, too, so he could lock the doors, but after several moments Sheldon still hadn't budged. Leonard opened the door back up and stuck his head inside.
"Coming?" he asked.
"No," Sheldon said matter-of-factly.
"And may I ask why not?"
"You may," Sheldon said.
Leonard sighed. "Why not, Sheldon?"
"Because, besides the fact that this 'music emporium' is probably filled with all sorts of questionable characters from Pasadena's seedy underbelly, I have an aversion to stringed instruments. Specifically harps, if I'm being precise."
Leonard looked at him like he was crazy. "I have a feeling I'm going to regret asking this, but: Why?"
"Ah," Sheldon said. "I find them upsetting due to their overuse in classic TV sitcoms. The harpist's plucking of the whole tone scale makes me think that I'll experience an episode from my past."
"Will it take you back to the time before you could talk?" Leonard said with mock glee.
Sheldon reflected on the notion for a moment. "I'm afraid not. My eidetic memory only goes as far back as my post-speech years. Although that was a fascinating idea, Leonard. Shame that those brilliant years I enjoyed prior to age two are lost in the annals of time."
"Yeah, real tragedy," Leonard said. "I'm going inside." He slammed the door.
"Fine," Sheldon said, and stuck his head out of the window, "but don't take long. Tonight is Thai Night and Siam Palace's order accuracy decreases significantly after 7:00."
"I won't be long," Leonard said, and set off towards the building.
When Leonard opened the door to the building, a young woman was standing there about to exit. She paused when she saw Leonard.
"While I appreciate your attempt at chivalry," she said, "I am more than capable of opening the door for myself."
"I wasn't opening the door for you," he said. "I was actually coming in."
"I find your misguided attempt at defending yourself unwelcome as well," she said and, brushing past him, exited the building.
Leonard squinted harshly as he watched her walk away. "Do I have 'Crazies Welcome' written on my forehead?" he said aloud.
"No," Leslie answered, "but you do have a mustard stain on your shirt."
Leonard looked down and started scratching at the yellow patch of dried condiment.
"You know him?" Sam asked.
"Yeah. A colleague of mine, and a cellist."
Leonard approached them. "Hi, Leslie," he said.
"Hello," she replied, and motioned between the two men. "Leonard, this is Sam. Sam, this is Leonard."
The two men exchanged handshakes.
"So, Leonard," Sam said, "what can I do you for?"
"Right," Leonard said, rubbing his hands together. "I need to buy new strings for my cello."
"Great," Sam said, and walked out from behind the corner. "I have a few kinds you can choose from, if you'd follow me."
He and Leonard walked off towards the string section and perused the available inventory. Leonard was busy considering his options when there was the loud sound of a car alarm going off.
"That sounds like my car," he said aloud, and began to make his way to the door when Sheldon suddenly walked in. His demeanor was sheepish.
"Hello," he said.
Leonard rushed passed Sheldon and pushed the button on his key fob, silencing the blaring noise.
"So, now an alarm goes off before you show up," Leslie said. "Nice upgrade, Cooper. Next time I'll know to leave."
"Yeah, well, I wish you would upgrade yourself to include a, well...," he paused, thinking hard. His face was contorted and steam was coming off the top of his head. "To include a...um, a sandwich so you couldn't talk."
She just stared back, a glib smile on her face. "I won," she said.
"Sheldon," Leonard said, weary, "I thought you said you weren't coming in."
"I had no intentions of coming in, however, my bladder indicated otherwise." He turned to Sam. "Where might I find a bathroom?"
Sam answered, pointing. "In the back, down the hall and to your left."
Sheldon started in the direction of the restroom, then paused and turned around.
"Will there be reading material in there?"
The rest of group all exchanged disturbed looks. "If you plan on taking a dump," Sam said, "there's a gas station across the street."
"I 'plan' on eliminating liquid waste, but I would feel more comfortable if I were prepared for any eventuality."
Sam looked at Leonard as if to ask, "Is he serious?!"
"He takes his bowel movements very seriously," Leonard explained. He paused a beat. "You should probably also know that he's crazy."
"I'm not crazy," Sheldon said. "My mother had me tested. Besides, reading material is a long established item of any well-stocked bathroom facility."
"Fine," Sam said. "What do you play?"
"Nothing," Leslie answered. "That would require talent."
"I beg your pardon," Sheldon said. "I play the theramin."
Sam stared back with no recognition. "What's a theramin?"
Leonard spoke up. "It's an electric instrument that's played without any discernible physical contact from the player. It's popular among Star Trek fans."
Sheldon leaned close to Leonard, smirking. "He doesn't know what a theramin is, and yet he claims to be a purveyor of musical instruments."
Sam cleared his throat. "Sorry. We don't have any reading material on theramins, but here," he said, and pulled a magazine from the magazine rack, extending it in Sheldon's direction. "Borrow this, but if you get it wet, you have to buy it."
Sheldon came forward and took the booklet in hand, but wrinkled his nose after perusing the cover. "I'm sorry," he said, handing it back. "I'm not a big fan of stringed instruments. Got anything else?"
Sam scanned his collection. "Woodwinds?"
"Keyboards? Or let me guess. Too key-y?"
"Actually," Sheldon said, "I'm a great fan of the piano and took lessons as a child. However, I had a traumatic keyboard incident recently. I can't get near the instrument without becoming nauseated by the sensation of cheesecake and vomit in my mouth."
Sam was baffled. "Why can't you—"
Leonard wilted wearily. "Please don't ask."
"Well, then, that's all I got," Sam said.
"That's very disappointing indeed," Sheldon. "One would think the 'Best Damn Music Shop in Pasadena' would have a better selection of music-themed periodicals."
"Fine. Here," Sam said, shoving one final booklet in the other man's hands. It was Kermit the Frog's Book of Songs to Play on the Recorder.
"Kermit!" Sheldon cried, visibly charmed. "He is an absolutely delightful character, and a wonderful ally to youth who find themselves ostracized from their peers because of their extraordinary qualities." He waved a playful hand at Sam. "Why didn't you start with this, you tease." With that, he gleefully headed to the back corridor, vanishing from sight.
Sam took a deep breath and tried to regain his composure. "So, Leonard, where were we? You were considering the metal strings over the synthetic ones because—"
Just then Sheldon reappeared, poking his head out from behind the corner and bearing a roll of toilet paper. "This is two-ply. I usually use three-ply toilet paper."
Sam pointed to the front door, yelling. "Either use the john, Sherman, or GET OUT!"
The urge to correct the error was on the tip of Sheldon's tongue, but he was rebuffed by the look of murder on Leonard's face. He swallowed the urge with a sniffle.
"I'll just double up," he said, waving the roll of paper, and disappeared once again.
"Dumbass," Leslie said, and shook her head.
The antique cash register sputtered and clanged as Sam rang up all the orders.
"Okay, Leslie, one violin shoulder rest and jar of rosin for you," he said.
"Yep," she replied with a nod.
"Metal cello strings and a book of sheet music for you, Leonard."
"You got it," Leonard said.
"And finally one children's book for recorder, one actual recorder, and a box of Red Vines for you," —he paused— "Sheldon."
"Precisely," Sheldon said. He clutched the instrument with childlike excitement. "I can't wait to learn to play."
Leonard sighed. "I promised if he was quiet for the rest of the time I'd get him a treat." He pulled out his credit card. "Go ahead and put his order on mine."
"Oh goody, goody, goody," Sheldon said, bouncing up and down.
When all the transactions had cleared, the melancholy pair of musicians and their merry friend left out of the store. As soon as Sam heard the jingle of a bell settle into silence and felt the swoosh of air from the door swinging closed, he collapsed—head first—into the glass counter.
"What the hell just happened?" he groaned. Then, he had a tempting idea. "I should lock up early and go get a drink."
Just then the jingle bell signaled that another costumer had arrived.
It was Amy Farrah Fowler.
"Hello," she said, poking her head through the door. "I'm back."
"Can I help you?" he asked, scraping up every bit of congeniality he could muster.
"I believe I have misplaced my tube of Chap Stick. You didn't happen to run across it, did you?"
Sam shook his head. "No, but you're welcome to look."
Amy came fully inside and began to pace the aisles, combing the shop for her missing item. Meanwhile, Sam wiped down the counter. A moment later she approached him.
"You found it?" he asked.
"Afraid not," she said, "although I did find this." She reached out her hand, and a sock dangled from her pinched fingers. "I'm at a loss as to how someone would leave behind a single piece of hosiery, but I should note that it's remarkably white and refreshingly fragrant. I'm sure the owner misses it dearly."
Sam took it from her. "Thanks. I'll, uh, put it in the lost-and-found."
Amy extended her hand. "Then, I'll see you Friday."
"You will?" he groaned.
"Yes. For Open Mic Night."
"Oh, yeah," he said. He'd forgotten about that. He shook her hand and plastered on a toothy smile. "See you then."
Amy nodded once, and then left. As soon as she was gone, Sam ran to the door and locked it behind her, then flipped the door sign to read "WE'RE CLOSED."
As he reached up to turn out the lights, he froze with a startling realization. "Wait! Amy and Sheldon," he said aloud. "It's so crazy, it just might work. Maybe I should invite him to Open Mic Night, too." Then he looked at the sock on the counter and thought of the Kermit book. "Nah," he said and left, pulling the door behind him.
End note: Thanks for reading. Make sure you check out the next story in this series written by the talented author, WeBuiltThePyramids. Also, thanks Lio, for your typically amazing beta job. LLTS!