Author's Note: This is the result of a tiny little comment someone made on Fan Forum. I don't remember who it was, or where it was, but I immediately sat down and started writing. I hope you enjoy. It's a bit long, but I couldn't find a could place to split it up.
For followers of my other stories - I love you all. I'm sorry for not updating anything this week. I promise to work hard to update next week.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own The Big Bang Theory or any of its characters. This story is for entertainment purposes only. I make no profit and no infringement of copyrights is intended.
Amy struggled a bit under the weight of the huge roast turkey, sitting pretty on it's platter lined with crisp leaves of Romaine lettuce and surrounded by decorative cranberries. It was unusually warm for late November in Pasadena. Not that it was ever frigid in Southern California, but with temperatures in the mid seventies and the sun bright in the sky, Sheldon suggested they move the dinner to the picnic tables clustered on the far side of the lawn. The tables were more frequently used for weekend barbeques and pool parties, but they certainly provided more room than could be had in the more formal dining room inside, despite the numerous folding tables brought up from the basement for the occasion.
She smiled at the thought of Sheldon suddenly changing plans in this way. He could be... almost… spontaneous at times now. Of course, having made the suggestion, he'd immediately dragooned Stephen and Mary to help him prepare the picnic area, swiftly scrubbing down the tables and benches, laying on the plastic tablecloths and transferring those of the decorations that would not be damaged should a sudden gust of wind cause them to topple or fly away. She saw him standing beside his work, observing with the air of a satisfied drill sergeant. Then he looked up and caught her eyes. After all these years, he still sent a shiver up her spine when he looked at her that way. Penny once called the look "eye-coitus". It certainly was. She knew now that those tingles bore a distinct, if somewhat dwarfed resemblance to the sensations he could still cause in their bed. Despite their late introduction to the joys of wedded bliss, as well as the assiduous use of various methods of birth control, they had four children.
Stephen was their first, and the only real "accident". A bare six weeks after their wedding, Penny insisted that Amy take a test, unconvinced that her missed period was merely due to all the excitement engendered by her new marriage and the many changes in her life. The test was positive, of course, and Penny immediately called her obstetrician to make her first appointment. Upon hearing the news, Sheldon composed sternly worded e-mails to the manufacturers of Amy's diaphragm and the condoms that he insisted on wearing for sanitary purposes as well as additional contraception.
It wasn't that they didn't plan to have children, but the timing was not following Sheldon's schedule. The schedule was a thirty year timeline that began with the moment he actually got down on one knee and, trembling, presented her with the social convention of a lovely engagement ring encased in a small, blue velvet box. It progressed through their wedding day, which should have been followed two years later with the conception of their first child. Unbeknownst to Sheldon, Mother Nature had other plans.
Amy was as much baffled by her condition as Sheldon. She knew no method of birth control was one-hundred percent effective, but surely the combination of two methods should have been a virtual guarantee?
For nearly a month after telling Sheldon the unexpected news, Amy fretted. Sheldon did not appreciate surprises. She worried that he might expect her to abort the child in order to stick to the original plan. And she thought she detected a certain… distance… in his attitude towards her.
True to his Christian upbringing, Sheldon insisted they wait until their wedding night to make love. He further told Amy that his plan called for coitus no more than twice a week, specifically on Sunday night and occasionally on Thursdays, after Date Night, a practice he saw no reason to discontinue simply because they were married. He agreed to make an exception for their wedding night, which was a Saturday, as it was the accepted convention to consummate a marriage on the wedding night.
They'd made love again the night following their wedding night, in spite of the fact that both were nearly exhausted from the long flight from Los Angeles to Geneva, Switzerland, where they would spend their honeymoon. It was Sunday, after all, and that was the plan.
The following day they'd spent the morning getting their bearings around the town. After lunch they made their way to the Franco-Swiss border, where Sheldon had an appointment to visit the Large Hadron Collider and meet with one of the Nobel Laureate theoreticians who first postulated the existence of the Higgs boson.
That evening, back at their inn, Amy was pleasantly surprised when Sheldon wrapped his arms around her flannel-encased body, turned her towards him, and began kissing her. Those were decidedly not goodnight kisses and sometime later, they lay together sheened with sweat and sated, Sheldon lightly stroking Amy's cheek as he feathered her face with light kisses. It was the first time he didn't immediately run to the shower.
The following morning over breakfast, Sheldon apologized for exceeding the planned frequency for love-making (he'd said "love-making", not coitus), but explained that, as it was their honeymoon, again, a greater frequency was expected. He further suggested that, if Amy was not averse, during the remaining days in Switzerland they would engage "as often as they liked" and revert to the planned schedule once back home in Pasadena. Amy eagerly agreed.
A large part of her expected that it was that unplanned Monday night engagement that produced Stephen. There was no way to tell, of course, because they'd engaged every night of their honeymoon, as well as two very notable mornings and one absolutely mind-blowing afternoon when it was snowing fiercely outside and they decided to postpone their planned excursion to the watch museum in favor of spending the afternoon reading to each other in front of the cozy fire laid invitingly in their room by the innkeeper.
Surprisingly, the innkeeper didn't bat an eye when Sheldon asked for several sets of clean sheets to have on hand "in case of emergency."
More surprisingly, upon their return to Pasadena, Sheldon's desires showed no signs of abating. They continued to make love almost nightly and occasionally on weekend mornings. Amy was further surprised that Sheldon made no mention of the change. They'd dispensed with the written Relationship Agreement shortly after their engagement, coming to a mutual agreement that their engagement and subsequent marriage, together with any and all verbal accords, constituted a contractual obligation between them, but that written documentation outside of their Marriage License was no longer necessary.
After Amy told Sheldon of the baby, he ceased carnal activities completely. He still kissed her when they parted company in the morning, and kissed and hugged her when they returned from work in the evening. And she sometimes woke in the middle of the night to find him wrapped around her like a large, warm octopus. But he made no moves to make love to her, and gently but firmly rebuffed the tentative advances she made.
It drove her crazy.
Until one Monday morning when he was in the shower and Amy felt the first bouts of morning sickness coming on. She stood outside the door to the bathroom, painfully trying to hold down the churning contents of her stomach until she simply couldn't take it anymore. She burst through the door and threw herself on her knees in front of the toilet.
Before anything could come up, she noted a noise coming from the direction of the shower stall, above the noise of the cascading water. Suddenly, her stomach settled and she turned. She couldn't see very much through the shower curtain, but what she could see did not look like a man who was lathering or rinsing. Sheldon was obviously standing very still and… grunting. Within a moment, the noises emanating from the stall changed to words, escalating to a crescendo.
"Oooh. Unnnhhhhh. Ohhhh! AMY!"
"Sheldon?" she demanded.
The figure behind the curtain whipped around, pulling the curtain back and affording Amy a quelling vision of her husband, dripping wet and still grasping his deflating penis. Water splashed on the tile floor and began streaming around the edges along the wall.
"Amy! What are you doing here?"
Amy, eyes big as saucers and full of hurt, rose from her kneeling position, shook out the twisted folds of her nightgown and raked her eyes from his knees up to his face.
"That's a good question, Sheldon," she said, "I'm not sure I know the answer."
She turned and left the room, pausing just in time before slamming the door.
Once out of the bathroom, Amy was unsure where to go. She didn't want to go back to their bedroom. She was sure Sheldon would follow her once he got dry and decent, and if they were about to have a scene, she didn't want it to sully their bedroom. She thought about hiding out in Leonard's room, but that seemed a bit cowardly. And it's not like he wouldn't find her there. The apartment wasn't very big, after all. Finally, she turned and went into the kitchen. Slowly, she began the process of heating water for tea. This was a discussion that would need a soothing cup of tea if ever there was one.
She had just filled the kettle and put it on to heat when Sheldon came up behind her, hair dripping and still damp, but with his robe securely protecting his modesty.
"Amy," he began very gently, "are you feeling all right? It seemed like you were about to be sick in there."
"I was… I…" She turned to face him, and his hand came up immediately to caress her cheek. Amy realized she wasn't so much angry as confused, embarrassed and hurt. Despite the fact that Sheldon was the instrument of those emotions, he also had the ability to soothe her better than anyone. She looked up into his eyes. "I think it was morning sickness. I'm sorry I burst in on you, but I just couldn't wait any longer."
"It's all right, Amy. I'm sure you were experiencing a very majeure force." He paused for a moment, then took her by the hand and led her over to the couch. "You sit down for a moment," he urged gently, "and I'll finish with the tea. Then we can talk. You're obviously upset and I want to know why."
While Sheldon finished the tea, Amy pondered what she could say to him. It's not like she'd caught him with another woman. If his final cry of "AMY!" was any indication, it was her and only her that got him hot and bothered. But why would he resort to taking matters in his own hands when she was right there? Last night was Sunday. If he was feeling the urge, it fit right into his schedule to relieve it with her. So why didn't he? The only reason she could imagine was that he was upset with her – most likely about the unplanned pregnancy. Perhaps he was concerned that the only way to avoid future "accidents" was to practice abstention and so he decided to get himself used to the necessary deprivation. But if that was the case, why didn't he talk to her about it?
By the time Sheldon arrived with two steaming mugs of tea, Amy was nearly in tears. Part of it, she knew, was attributable to the pregnancy hormones. In all their years as a couple, she never once before approached a discussion with Sheldon with tears in her eyes. She berated herself. Whatever it was that was bothering him, they were about to talk it out. And there was nothing they couldn't resolve by talking it out. It always worked in the past. It was their strength.
"Here you go, Amy," Sheldon said as he set a mug down in front of her and sat down in his spot. "It's chamomile and peppermint. The peppermint should help to settle your stomach. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but it is a common problem, especially during the first trimester. As we are nearly in the middle of your third month, with luck we can expect this to pass in a few weeks."
He set his own cup down on the table, then reached out to take her hand in his. With his other arm, he reached around her shoulder and gently urged her closer to him. "I realize there is something else upsetting you. While I don't know what it is, I promise to do whatever I can to correct it. In the meantime, I suspect you could use a consoling cuddle. You may lay your head on my shoulder while we talk, if you wish."
For a moment Amy thought about one of Sheldon's favorite movies and wondered if he'd been replaced by a pod creature. It's not that Sheldon was incapable of being comforting and sweet. It just didn't usually manifest itself without a certain amount of cajoling on her part. Of course, she had been sick, and Sheldon was always very caring when she was sick. She recalled the first time he cared for her and the ghost of a smile crossed her face. She relaxed and allowed the slight pressure from his hand to ease her onto his shoulder. She suddenly knew there was a perfectly good explanation – a perfectly good Sheldonian explanation – for what she witnessed this morning and for his recent romantic reticence. She almost didn't need to know what it was. Except she did.
"Sheldon," she began, absently reaching a hand up to play with the buttons on his robe, "Just to be completely clear, did I see what I think I saw?"
"What do you think you saw?" Sheldon asked, his own hand lightly rubbing circles over her lower back.
"You were masturbating," she said in a very matter-of-fact tone. She didn't want him to think she was judging him for that. She didn't imagine that people who were married never masturbated. What hurt was that it seemed he was resorting to masturbation instead of sex with her, rather than in addition to.
Sheldon sighed. "Yes, I was masturbating. I admit that it's uncomfortable for me to discuss it, but if it bothers you, then we can talk about it."
He paused and Amy collected her own thoughts, trying to figure out how to say what she needed to say. Before she could formulate a sentence, Sheldon was speaking again.
"Like most young men, it happened the first time when I was a teenager. I did it fairly frequently as a youth – three or four times a year – until I learned to control my urges. By the time I was seventeen I had it under control and only succumbed twice more until I was thirty."
"What happened when you were thirty?" Amy prompted, although she had a suspicion that she knew the answer. She smiled, hiding her face in the plaid of her husband's robe.
Sheldon squeezed her gently, "You know very well what happened, vixen. I met you. My life completely flip-flopped in that coffee house, and you know it."
Amy felt him kiss her hair. She felt much better. Sheldon still loved her, that was obvious. Not that she ever really doubted it. Still, she needed an answer.
"Sheldon," she croaked, then cleared her throat to start again. "Sheldon, why don't you want to make love to me anymore?"
She let out a breath with a whoosh. She couldn't prevent a slight emphasis on the me.
"Oh Amy!" Sheldon laughed and squeezed her again. He put two fingers under her chin and raised her face up to look into her eyes. "Of course I want to make love to you. Why else do you think I was doing what I was doing this morning?"
"Well," Amy answered, "if you still want to, then I think you would have done what you were doing this morning with me last night. I don't understand if you want to, why are you not?"
A range of expressions crossed Sheldon's face - confusion, amusement and a hint of exasperation. After a moment he began to speak again, slowly and carefully, like he was explaining something to a child. "Amy," he said, "you are pregnant."
Amy was back to being on the verge of tears. "Sheldon!" She realized her voice was becoming strident, but she was too emotional to worry about that. "I was pregnant for most of the first six weeks of our marriage before we found out and that certainly didn't stop you. Are you that upset about this?" She paused a moment, gathering the courage to address the elephant that had taken up residence in the room. "Do you think I should abort this… this… fetus… so we can get back on your schedule?"
Sheldon was rarely at a loss for words. No matter the subject or the company, he nearly always had something to say and would respond quickly to any question posed to him. Amy realized she found an exception. Sheldon sat quietly for several minutes. She was beginning to think he simply wasn't going to answer. Until finally, he pushed her away, setting her upright and drawing his hands back into his lap. Amy noticed that his hair had started to dry and little curls were forming on the ends around his neckline and across his forehead. He was due for a haircut soon. The water dripping from his formerly soaking hair had formed wet patches on his shoulders.
She'd done her best to keep the emotional turmoil of this discussion to a minimum. She used the term fetus very deliberately. She wasn't sure why she was trying so hard to make it easy for Sheldon to shatter her world, but she was. If he brought the hammer down, well, she'd handed it to him.
She was staring at her own hands, clasped in her lap, when she saw Sheldon's hand coming into her field of vision. Slowly, he touched her stomach. Amy had never been svelte and sleek like Penny. She always had a little tummy, and she'd never been too concerned about it. It wasn't really any bigger yet, although she often placed her own hand there, trying in vain to detect an increased swelling. She knew it was too early for any movement. Amy watched as Sheldon touched her belly with just the tips of his fingers. Then, he flattened his hand against her, cupping the slight roundness. She looked up, not realizing until she felt a drop on her own hand, that she was crying.
Sheldon sucked in a breath. He reached out with his other hand and caught a tear as it was rolling down her cheek.
"Amy! Don't cry! Please don't ever cry!" He brought both hands up to her cheeks and wiped the tears away, his thumbs stroking repeatedly across her cheeks and under her eyes until all trace of her crying, except the redness in her eyes, was erased.
"Amy," he started again, moving his right hand back down to lay over her belly. "This isn't a fetus," he said. "Well, it is, but it's so much more that that. Amy," Sheldon said, "this is our baby. I did want us to reproduce on a certain schedule, partly so we would have time to… adjust… to being married. You know I don't deal well with change, Amy. But I would never want to… to… to ask you to…"
He stopped. Amy had been watching Sheldon's hand as he lightly caressed her belly. She looked up and saw tears glittering in his own eyes.
"Amy," he continued, after clearing his throat, "I'm not religiously or morally opposed to abortion. If your pregnancy endangered your health, or if we already had too many children, or if there were some other compelling reason, then I would agree." He brought his other hand down and placed it on top of her belly next to the other hand, surrounding it. "Sweetheart," he said, "I love this baby – almost as much as I love you. And I haven't even met him – or her – yet. I wouldn't want to… end it… simply because it wasn't aware of the schedule I drew up." He smiled. "With luck, if we're a bit more careful, the next one will adhere to the schedule. I've already made adjustments to the timeline, starting with the expected birth this year around Saturnalia."
Amy smiled in return and Sheldon's smile turned into a full-on grin. She loved the chipmunk look he got when he smiled.
"I'll have to think of a truly amazing gift for you," Sheldon continued, his voice dropping to a shy whisper, "considering the value of the gift you're giving me."
"Oh, Sheldon!" Amy cried, her own hand covering her belly, "you already have!"
Sheldon leaned over and kissed her, on the mouth. "Are you feeling better, now?"
Amy nodded. Then she realized that Sheldon never really answered her question.
"Thank you, Sheldon. I'm glad to know that you are happy about this… about our baby. But I still don't know why you don't… why you won't make love to me anymore."
Sheldon looked down again, his hands absently crumpling the fabric of his robe. Amy noticed that he wasn't wearing his pajamas underneath and the robe was gaping slightly, providing her with a heady vision of his upper thigh. If he kept crumpling it like that, it might give her a glimpse of something that, if they didn't resolve things during this conversation, would only serve to frustrate her more. It was certainly true what her grandpa used to sing… How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?
Sheldon began to speak and she tore her eyes away from the tantalizing show.
"I've never in my life known anyone who was pregnant, Amy. It may surprise you to know that, while I know a good deal about virtually everything, pregnancy is one thing I know almost nothing about. It is, after all, one of those icky, squishy things that is more in your line."
Sheldon stopped messing with his robe and leaned over to grab his now tepid tea. Amy took the opportunity to do the same, and it did seem to calm both her nerves and her stomach. Until she noticed that Sheldon's reach toward the table served to do what his nervous fabric clutching had not. There was the barest peep of what she privately called "Little Sheldon" lying dormant against his skin. She immediately transferred her focus back to the cup in her hands.
"Given our original plan, Amy, I intended to research the subject thoroughly in approximately a year. Our little surprise has required me to accelerate my studies and up until now, I've felt it prudent to concentrate on how the pregnancy might affect you – your health, your physical stamina and your emotions. I felt it was important that I understand how to take care of you during this time."
"O...kay, Sheldon." Amy was still confused and while she was happy he was taking such an interest, it still didn't explain…anything. "I appreciate your concern for my well-being. But surely nothing in your research has said that sex is contra-indicated?"
Sheldon looked up suddenly at the word "sex".
"No…" he answered. Then the words spewed out of him so fast she could barely follow. "But I'm no where near finished and I haven't had time to really delve into anything that might harm the baby, so I thought just to be safe…"
Amy wanted to laugh. She knew she couldn't – Sheldon would be mortified if she laughed at him, and he was being so amazingly sweet. But she couldn't help the big smile that split her face.
"Sheldon," she began after a moment, when she could trust herself not to giggle, "I promise you. Sex will not hurt the baby. Not as long as everything else is going well, and… so far so good. But if it will make you feel better, we can ask Doctor Falco when we go to my next appointment. You are still going with me, aren't you?"
Sheldon nodded. "Of course. I've already researched your doctor, and despite the fact that Penny picked her – probably out of a phone book – she does seem to be tops in her field."
"Yes, she's wonderful," Amy agreed. "She's the doctor who's been helping Leonard and Penny with their problems. I'm sorta hoping that they'll get some good news soon and then me and my bestie can be pregnancy buddies together. I think it would be wonderful if we had children of similar ages who could grow up together, don't you?"
Sheldon just nodded.
"It's settled then," Amy said brightly, giving Sheldon an affectionate squeeze on his knee, which caused him to look down and notice his state of undress. She wasn't surprised when he reddened and quickly pulled the edges of his robe together. She kept talking as if nothing happened. "We'll ask Doctor Falco on Wednesday. Then I'm going to bring you home and have my hormonally-charged way with you!" She rose from the couch, downed the last of her tea and walked over to the kitchen. "But now, we are both late for work, Doctor Cooper!"
Amy turned to rinse the cup out and place it in the dishwasher. Sheldon came up behind her, wrapped his arms around her and placed his hands again over her belly. He nuzzled her neck and whispered, "I love you both very much, Doctor Fowler-Cooper and Little Baby Cooper!"
Sheldon took the turkey platter from her hands, a look of concern on his face. "Are you ok, Amy? You've been standing there a couple of minutes just staring. Let me take the turkey, it looks heavy."
Amy relinquished the turkey platter and shook her head a moment. "I'm fine, Sheldon. Just tilting at windmills a bit."
He laughed. "Well you should hold your tilting until you are not holding a 30 pound roast turkey. What were you thinking about?"
He began to walk towards the tables. Amy admired the view for a moment, then followed him. She took in the beautifully decorated tables, and the garlands of fall leaves that were now festooning the trees, having been transferred from where they previously decorated the walls inside the house. Stretched between two large oak trees was a huge banner that read "Happy Thanksgiving". Once Sheldon settled the turkey on one of the tables, she walked up beside him and snaked one arm around his still-trim middle. Looking up, she gently smoothed the greying hair at his temple. Smiling down at her, he took the hint and leaned down while she stood on tiptoe and kissed the spot. Amy turned and smiled brightly at her oldest son, Stephen, and her youngest and only daughter, Mary.
"It all looks lovely, you guys! I can't wait for everyone else to see it!"
"Well then," Stephen said, "I'll go get them. I'm sure Aunt Penny is tired by now of explaining football to Uncle Leonard for the thousandth time."
With that, he dashed into the house. A few moments later, he came back out, trailed by the dozen or so people that Amy now considered her extended family. Her second son, Peter, was the only one already married. He came out with his wife, Sarah. Like his father, Peter had wasted no time getting his wife pregnant once they were married and Amy and Sheldon were eager to greet their first grandchild in the Spring. Their youngest son, Sheldon Junior, like Mary, was still in school. Sheldon was working on a Masters degree and Mary was still an undergrad. Amy knew Sheldon loved all the children, but she also knew that he was baffled that both Peter and Sheldon had opted for careers outside of the realm of science. Peter was a successful business analyst, working for a large software firm based in Pasadena. Sheldon was studying Archeology, which Sheldon Senior did not consider a "real" science. Once he attained his Masters degree, he would be leaving the country to join a dig and work on a doctorate.
Only Stephen, who was named for Stephen Hawking, of course, and Mary, had shown any real interest in their parents' careers. Stephen was just awarded his own doctorate in Neuroscience and was trying to decide if he wanted to pursue pure research at a university, or continue studying to become a medical doctor. All of the boys were much more outgoing and socially adept than their parents. Only Mary was the exception.
Like Sheldon, Mary was a genius. Amy often wondered about that. Mary was their other real "surprise" child. Stephen, Peter and Sheldon were each born within two years of the other, more-or-less according to Sheldon's revised schedule. A third child was an "option" on the timeline, but one they were both happy to welcome. Six years after her last pregnancy, when Amy was 45 and missed her period, she simply assumed it was early signs of menopause. Again, her friend Penny had to talk her into getting it checked out. Amy was very surprised to learn the truth. But this time, her doctor warned both Amy and Sheldon that there might be serious complications with a pregnancy so late in life, both for the mother and the child. She and Sheldon agonized over what to do, but finally decided that, as long as there were no signs of problems, they would continue with the pregnancy.
Sheldon treated her with kid gloves the entire time. But in the end, everything went smoothly and they were rewarded with their precious baby girl. As she grew and it became obvious that she was their truly exceptional child, Amy wondered what led them to take the risk and keep their little genius. It was certainly not enough to push her into embracing the sort of religion that Sheldon's mother followed, but it did make her wonder if there might be a guiding force in the universe.
Of course, Sheldon spoiled Mary completely rotten. And not just because she was Daddy's Little Girl, but also because the spark of brilliance he so hoped to see in all his children, was only really there in Mary. Amy didn't fault him for his special attachment to his daughter. Sheldon never slighted the other children, or treated them like they were somehow not good enough because they were merely exceptionally smart and not the brilliant genius their sister was. They'd discussed it once and Sheldon explained to Amy that while his family was loving and they tried, they never really accepted him because of his extraordinary gifts. He was not about to allow his own children to think they somehow didn't measure up in their father's eyes. After eschewing such sports for most of his life, as the boys got older, Sheldon became adept at tossing a football, and playing catch, and pick-up basketball games. But when he spent time with his daughter, it was obviously a meeting of like minds.
Fortunately, Mary was able to attend classes at CalTech. Amy wasn't sure what she would have done if she had to send her thirteen year old baby girl away from home. Now sixteen, Mary would graduate in the Spring, then continue working at the university towards her first doctorate. She often teased her father that she planned to earn it a year earlier than he had his. She'd already beaten him at one thing – she was only thirteen when she won the Stevenson award. Of course, her father countered that he won his Nobel the same year, and she had a long way to go before she could top that.
Penny and Bernadette came out, walked up and encircled Amy in a group hug while they exclaimed over the beautiful table. Penny and Leonard had, indeed, gotten good news when Amy was just over halfway through her first pregnancy. Their daughter, Amelia, was a blond beauty with her father's eyes and his smile. Four years later, the fertility drugs had produced twin boys, after which Penny told Leonard to get himself fixed, because she'd had quite enough of pregnancy and didn't want any surprises. She was working on a successful sitcom at the time, and the producers worked the pregnancy into the storyline. Five years later, the show came to an end. But Penny made enough money to keep her family comfortable well into the future.
Bernadette and Howard never had children. Bernadette enjoyed her friends' babies, but was always glad when she could hand over a crying or poopy infant back to its parent. Howard eventually reconciled himself to living a happy life with his beautiful wife. He, on the other hand, couldn't get enough of playing with his friends' kids. Of the entire group, Amy thought Howard might just be looking forward to the third generation more than any of them.
Raj finally accepted his parents' help and began dating a young Indian woman they arranged for him to meet. In the first few months of their relationship, he basically stalked the poor woman, trying to ensure that she was not a lesbian or harbored some other secret. They broke up when she discovered what he was doing. She called him a jerk and a pervert and swore she never wanted to see him again. A few weeks later, she called Penny in tears, asking how someone as sweet as Raj could do something so creepy. Penny explained a bit of Raj's history, and encouraged her to give him another chance. Years later, Amy teased Penny, saying she was single handedly responsible for the overpopulation problem, as the Koothrappalis had six children. The Koothrappalis and their brood were visiting family in India this Thanksgiving, or Amy would have needed two turkeys.
As the group sat down around the two large picnic tables, Amy held her hand out across the table for Sheldon to hold.
"Amy!" he complained, "are we really going to do this again?"
All four Cooper children made various expressions of exasperation.
"Yes, Sheldon. We are," began their mother, preparing herself for the annual argument. "I promised your mother that I would ensure that you observe the tradition of grace before meals at least once each year. Thanksgiving seems the most appropriate time to do that. And you WILL do it, Sheldon Lee Cooper, just as you've done it every year in the past and will continue to do it every year in the future. Now we've got hungry guests who want to eat. Stop arguing and pray!"
Penny giggled uproariously from the other table while Sheldon scowled and took Amy's hand. Amy was still not comfortable with religion, but she made an effort to honor her promise.
Everyone ate too much and, as they were just finishing their pie, dusk began to fall. Amy suggested they move everything back indoors while they could still see and before it got too chilly. With so many people, it didn't take long to clear the tables and get all the food back into the kitchen, wrapped up and put away. When Penny and Bernadette insisted that Amy take a break and sit down, Howard and Sheldon shared dishwashing duties, making quick work of the chore.
For what was likely the thousandth time in her life, Amy marveled at how lucky she was. "I really do wish I could go back and tell my teenage self that it does get better!" she told her friends.
"You say that every year, Ames." Penny teased.
"And every year, it's still true," Amy replied. "I have the most wonderful husband, four amazing kids and a daughter-in-law who is just wonderful and is about to make me a grandmother. We've all been friends for years and you guys are part of my family, too. My teenage self would never dream of any of this! I'm so lucky!"
"We love you, too." Bernadette said and leaned across Penny to pat her friend's knee.
It was getting late, and although almost everyone had the following day off, they still needed to get to their respective homes. Peter and Sarah left first, since she was particularly tired. Stephen kissed his mom and hugged his dad and said he needed to check in with his girlfriend. It was still too early in the relationship to spend holidays with each other's families, but by the way he talked about her, Amy was sure the girl would be joining them the following year.
Howard and Bernadette left as well, as they needed to check on Howard's mother in the retirement community. They'd visited earlier, but at her advanced age, Mrs. Wolowitz sometimes got overly excited by her son's visits and would go into hysterics after he left. If that was the case, he would stop back by and stay with her until she went to sleep.
The Hofstadter twins also left early, claiming they needed to study for finals at Stanford. Leonard wasn't fooled. He knew that was twin code-speak for a party at the dorm. But as the boys were doing well and would likely graduate cum laude, he was ok with it.
After seeing the boys off, Leonard and Penny came back inside.
"Hey, has anyone seen Amelia?" asked Penny, looking around the family room where they'd all been gathered most of the evening.
"Come to think of it," said Leonard, "I don't think I've seen my girl since we all came in from dinner. You don't think she left without saying goodbye, do you?"
"She better not," exclaimed Penny, "I raised her with better manners than that." She turned to her husband, laying a hand on his arm. "Can you go out back and check if she's out there sweetie? I'll call her cell."
Leonard nodded, patted his wife's hand and headed for the back door. Penny pulled out her cellphone, hit the talk button and quickly said "Call Amelia". As she and Amy listened, the call rang several times, then went to voicemail. Penny stabbed her finger at the phone to disconnect the call. A few moments later, Leonard returned.
Looking up, Penny's hand went to her mouth. Leonard appeared to be in shock. "What is it, sweetie," she whispered, a tremor in her voice, "did you find our daughter?"
Leonard looked at his wife, then nodded, still speechless.
"Is she in the back yard?" Penny asked, frantic. "Is she ok?"
Leonard nodded again, but remained mute.
"What's wrong, Leonard, honey? You're scaring me!"
"I found her," he began, "I saw her… behind the pool house. She was… canoodling… with Sheldon."
"With Sheldon?" Penny and Amy screamed together.
"Sheldon Junior," Leonard clarified.
"Oh!" The women turned to each other, relief turning to glee. "Sheldon and Amelia, sittin' in a tree…" Amy began in a sing-song voice.
"SHELDON!" Leonard shouted, stomping off to find his best friend. "YOU AND I BETTER BE PLANNING A WEDDING SOON!"
Penny and Amy started jumping up and down, hugging each other just like old times back in apartment 4B.