Knock, knock, knock. “Leonard.” Knock, knock, knock. “Leonard.” Knock -
“Yes, Sheldon! I'm up! What is it?”
Leonard glared at his flatmate, willing the other man to simply vanish. Sheldon, looking calm and collected as usual, finished his remaining two knocks on Leonard's bedroom door and repeated the name again.
“What?” Leonard growled, staring agitatedly at his friend. He'd never get why the other man insisted on being crazy; why he couldn't just learn to play nice like everybody else do when they grow up. Everybody except Wolowitz, perhaps.
“I think I should be your boyfriend.”
First, Leonard choked on his own breath. Then he began coughing, causing Sheldon to look at him with an expression of mild curiosity. Finally, he stared at his crazy friend, trying to detect another “Bazinga!” in the offing. None such were forthcoming, so Leonard cleared his throat.
“Why is that, Sheldon? And why are you telling me at two in the morning?” he asked.
“I'm glad you asked,” Sheldon said, and his smug little smile told Leonard he was about to launch into one of his bizarrely logical explanations again. The kind that utterly ignored social convention and common sense in favour of whatever seemed more reasonable to the tall physicist.
“I have noticed that your sex drive is exponentially stronger than my own. Which is, perhaps, not surprising, considering I have yet to feel compelled to attempt to mate. What is important, however, is that the aforementioned sex drive leads you to introduce absurdly unsuitable females into our lives. It threatens the consistency and stability of our household,” Sheldon began.
“Social convention dictates, I understand, that finding a suitable partner is the acceptable way of dealing with one's reproductive urges. However, among males these urges can often be sated by the mere expulsion of semen, in other words, by achieving an orgasm.
“To conclude, I believe that ready access to sexual gratification would completely fulfill your need for human contact and thus render the arguments for a girlfriend, void. I propose that I supply this access, in exchange for your assurance that no other unsuitable female will be introduced into our lives,” he said. He sounded smug and self-satisfied.
Leonard gaped at him. “First, I don't even know how you came to that conclusion, Sheldon, and second, why did you come to it at two in the morning?”
“Well, it's perfectly logical,” Sheldon insisted. “You require sexual gratification, which I am able to supply without upsetting the comfortable status quo in which we usually find ourselves. And I came to this logical conclusion now, at two twelve am, because I couldn't sleep. I had a cup of Earl Grey tea earlier this afternoon, if you'll recall.”
Leonard frowned, rubbing his sleepy face with a hand. “You just had to spring this on me in the middle of the night, didn't you?”
“Well, I don't see why I should have waited until we were in the cafeteria at the university,” Sheldon said blithely. “Not that it would have bothered me, but I understand most people prefer to keep such matters private.”
They discussed. They argued. Sheldon even gave Leonard the exasperated “you're being an idiot” stare at one time. But after a little while, Leonard's sleep-addled brain decided to hell with it and didn't want to stay awake anymore.
“Fine, Sheldon, whatever!” he said, starting to pad back into his bedroom and pulling the door shut behind him. “We'll be boyfriends, fine!”
He didn't actually mean it. But the next day, as they sat in the cafeteria, Sheldon cleared his throat and said in that horribly dramatic voice of his, “Leonard and I are... together.”
Koothrappali swallowed the straw to his juice box. Wolowitz began laughing, then sobered up.
Leonard just knew he was blushing like he used to when Sarah Sanders called him smart in fifth grade. “He woke me up tonight and I went back to sleep as soon as I could. I'm not sure what he's talking about.”
Sheldon almost looked hurt for a moment. “Oh, Leonard! I find it disappointing that you can't even remember our conversations for a full day. You really need to pay more attention when I'm talking to you.”
Leonard was starting to get angry. “You started talking about my sex drive as if it was a big problem, Sheldon! As if I'm the one with the freaky sex drive! You don't have one; what do you know! And at two in the morning, too!”
“But this is the very problem I am looking to solve,” Sheldon insisted. “I explained this to you last night, Leonard.”
In the end, Leonard only ignored him until they were back home in their own apartment that night. Then he turned to Sheldon to pick a really big fight, and found himself utterly disarmed by the expectant way Sheldon was looking at him.
“Do you want me to provide you with sexual stimulation now, Leonard?”
Needless to say, Leonard had caved. He always did because Sheldon always won. At everything. And when Sheldon felt he could get rid of all the “absurdly unsuitable females” by getting Leonard off, then it would take a stronger man than Leonard to make him believe otherwise. Not to mention, as soon as Sheldon dropped efficiently to his knees and opened Leonard's trousers, the shorter man didn't know what to say.
Or what to do.
So things worked out just like Sheldon wanted for a while; Leonard didn't bring any girls home, and Sheldon would jerk him off every so often. Leonard often thought he should just get himself a girlfriend; someone he really liked, someone who wouldn't be afraid of Sheldon. He should get himself a normal girlfriend and then explain to Sheldon that a hand job wouldn't be enough to make him stop bringing in females. He had to make Sheldon see that that cold logic of his didn't appeal to Leonard at all. And he was going to, really, he was. He just hadn't found a nice girl who liked him, yet.
He was going to, until Sheldon offered to let Leonard fuck him. Fuck him, as in, invade Sheldon's body in the most intimate way possible.
“Would you like to have proper intercourse with me, Leonard?” he had asked one day.
Leonard had been flabbergasted, not to mentioned completely shocked. “Um... what?”
“I understand it gives greater pleasure to copulate than to receive hand stimulation,” Sheldon said, finishing up a few calculations on his whiteboard. “I wouldn't be adverse to the idea, given, of course, that proper lubrication was utilized.”
The first time they had sex like that – and Leonard was still in shock when he began pushing into Sheldon's stiff, unresponsive body; Sheldon, having sex! It was unbelievable – Leonard had waited until they were both naked, and then let his friend jerk him off until he was hard. He rolled on a condom and applied a lot of cold, clear gel that came in a discreet tube.
“You're sure you want to do this?”
Sheldon snorted. “I wouldn't have offered if I had been uncomfortable with the idea. And I don't see why you should concern yourself.”
Because you're my friend and I care about you, because it kind of feels like a mix between a scientific experiment and rape, because it's not fucking normal to have sex with a homo novus. Leonard wanted to say all of these things, but said nothing, because Sheldon was so...
Kind of beautiful, isn't he?
And then Sheldon laid down on his back, pushed a pillow under his hips – Leonard's pillow, of course – as if he knew just how to have gay sex with his best friend. Sheldon spread his long legs and waited. He didn't take his large, blank eyes off Leonard once.
Leonard awkwardly moved over him and penetrated his friend; he couldn't fucking believe he was doing it, and all the while Sheldon watched him impassively, barely even wincing when Leonard's dick pushed into him. He wasn't even hard, as if Sheldon's body simply didn't have the ability to become sexually aroused.
Minutes after he'd come, Leonard stumbled to the bathroom and threw the used condom in the bin, then had to splash cold water on his face to wake himself from whatever absurd nightmare this was. He didn't want to look in the mirror; he wasn't sure if he'd see something there he didn't like. It felt like he'd just had sex with an inanimate object.
Finally looking up into the mirror, Leonard saw Sheldon standing in the doorway behind him. Staring. Calculations running at full speed behind those cold eyes. “What?”
“You know I am far from adept at reading facial expressions related to emotions, Leonard, but allow me to guess. You are upset, aren't you?” Sheldon stated.
Leonard turned to regard his friend. Sheldon had pulled on his underpants but were otherwise as undressed as Leonard. Those big, blue eyes were just watching him. The taller man appeared to be completely unaware of their state of undress, neither uncomfortable nor affronted. Leonard took a brief moment to take in his friend's lanky frame, the fine limbs and slender – almost skinny – torso, the jerky awkwardness with which he moved. Sheldon couldn't really be called attractive.
So why did Leonard feel such a longing to reach out and touch? That particular urge hadn't even been this strong during his early days with Penny.
“Yes, I am,” he just said.
“My, I am getting better at this,” Sheldon said as if talking to himself. “Now, Leonard, it is my understanding that one is not normally upset after a pleasing sexual encounter. Can I then operate from the assumption that I did not meet your sexual needs tonight? If you like, I can prepare an evaluation form for you to fill out so that our next encounter of this nature will be less of a disappointment.”
“Disappointment? To whom?” Leonard asked, recoiling. Had he hurt Sheldon? Despite the other man's insistence that they go through with this absurdity, had Sheldon not wanted this?
“Why, to you, of course,” Sheldon said, cocking his head to one side. “I'm not the one who rushed to the bathroom shortly after intercourse. I am no expert on the subject, of course, but I do believe the polite thing to do is to spend at least a few minutes post-coitus in bed with one's partner.”
Leonard sighed and tore his eyes away from the crazily beautiful mind lodged in a strangely attractive body. “Sheldon, don't.”
“Please formulate a full sentence when you present me with a request, Leonard,” Sheldon said, sounding almost exasperated. “I cannot possibly know what it is you don't want me to do when all you say is, don't.”
“Don't treat this like a failed experiment!” Leonard snapped. “Jesus, Sheldon, we just... you know...”
“Engaged in intercourse.”
“... had sex and you're talking about it as if it was nothing but a computer simulation. Doesn't any of this register with you? Doesn't it bother you that you're putting your body at my disposal just so I won't have sex with girls who try to make you French toast on oatmeal day? For heaven's sake, Sheldon, you don't even like this!” Leonard exclaimed. He didn't know how to feel about this at all.
Sheldon cocked his head to the other side. “But you achieved orgasm.”
Leonard's head begun spinning. He really didn't know what to do or think. “So?”
“That was the object of this exercise. My liking it, as you so quaintly put it, does not factor into the equation,” Sheldon said calmly.
“Well, I didn't like it, either!” Leonard pleaded. “Sheldon, come on. Sex isn't just about... about ejaculation! It's about human contact, connection! Yeah, I want to have sex, like everybody else, but it's not worth it if it ends up like this.”
“Like what?” Sheldon asked, looking honestly confused.
“I... What we just did, was that rape? Or did I just have sex with an inanimate object?” Leonard demanded. “You didn't like it; you don't even want to have sex! I feel... filthy,” he concluded lamely, realizing how silly that sounded but feeling it true nonetheless. He'd just used his best friend. He felt horrible.
“But if you didn't like it, then this entire venture has failed,” Sheldon said, sounding surprised. “I wish you'd told me sooner, Leonard; I could have discarded this hypothesis and began working on a new one. How will unfulfilling sexual activity keep you from engaging in relationships to unsuitable females?”
“I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you while we're both still naked,” Leonard muttered angrily. Sheldon was so logical it was almost painful. No other person Leonard knew could – or would – so easily focus on the cold logic of things and completely forget about the human factor.
“Sheldon, just why is it so important to you to keep me away from unsuitable females?” he asked at last. “Can't you, just for once, eat French toast on oatmeal day?”
“They disturb you in your work,” Sheldon said stubbornly. “And they disturb my routines, my work... Leonard, they sit in my spot!”
But there was something else there. For the first time since he'd known the taller physicist, Leonard heard something in his voice that wasn't reasonable Sheldon logic. He sounded... almost petulant. And pleading.
“Sheldon, are you... jealous?” Leonard asked slowly. “Of whom?”
“I don't like your girlfriends, Leonard,” Sheldon said, turning his head evasively to one side. “Wouldn't it be better if we could eliminate such an unstable and disturbing element from our -”
“If you say equation now I'll punch you,” Leonard threatened.
“Our, our friendship,” Sheldon said, brightening as if over a newly-discovered fun fact. “Your girlfriends threaten our friendship.”
“Sheldon, are you even listening to yourself?”
“Every girl you've ever dated has disturbed me deeply, Leonard. They speak in irritating registers, they want to have Italian food on Thai food night, they interrupt our Halo nights to chat about insignificant trivialities. And they sit in my spot,” Sheldon concluded triumphantly.
That last bit registered with Leonard. His spot. Sheldon's spot. The other man wasn't just talking about his sofa cushion, was he?
“You're jealous of them,” Leonard said incredulously. “You want me for yourself!”
Sheldon opened and closed his mouth a few times, looking as if he was trying to give Kripke a snappy comeback. Then he glared at the floor for a few moments. Finally, the tall scientist looked up and fixed Leonard with a serious gaze. “True. I have no desire to share your attention, time and slash or physical presence with anyone else. I especially do not like having to share you, as it were, with unintelligent females who do not appreciate your personality beyond your interest in their mammary glands.”
Leonard was flabbergasted. Really? Really? This was all just an elaborate way of asking Leonard if he wanted to have a real relationship with the other man? And why the hell...
But he gave up, even as he thought it. It was Sheldon, what had he been expecting? Did he think Sheldon would have come bearing roses and chocolates, or little models of atoms made from olives and tooth picks? No, of course Sheldon would try to argue his way into a relationship. He had just logicked Leonard into a corner.
“You're an ass, Sheldon, and an idiot.”
Sheldon looked truly affronted at that. “Well, there's no reason to be so callous! I do believe I just admitted to having pathetically carnal urges where you are concerned; a little consideration would not go amiss!”
“You should have just told me,” Leonard said. Then he marched straight over to Leonard and grabbed out for the other man.
At first Sheldon tried to flinch away. But Leonard determinedly took hold of his shoulders and held him still before leaning in close, so close they were breathing each others' air. He glared Sheldon right in the eyeball. Sheldon's blue eyes were frightened and shining; a long way from the cold logic with which they'd observed Leonard earlier. They flitted, searched, and those pouty lips were slightly open and shivering.
“And before you make it any worse, I'm going to shut you up,” Leonard declared. Then he closed the tiny gap still between them and pressed his lips to Sheldon's.
Sheldon – alien, borderline autistic, unfeeling Sheldon Cooper – gave a small, frightened whimper. He stood very still, not moving at all, while Leonard kissed him, the shorter man's hands on Sheldon's scrawny shoulders.
“Can we do this like normal people do?” Leonard asked, breaking the kiss to look into big, blue orbs. “Can we start with just sleeping in the same bed?”
“I never let anyone in my room,” Sheldon protested weakly, but he looked confused and hesitant when he said it, especially at such a close range.
“We'll be in my room,” Leonard assured him, taking Sheldon's hand carefully and pulling him towards the bedroom once more. “Just sleep next to me, Sheldon. I can't do this robot sex thing. And I know you're not a robot,” he added loudly, seeing Sheldon was about to argue. “It just feels like it. I don't like that.”
“Oh, very well, if you must,” Sheldon muttered. He looked strangely frightened, docilely following Leonard back into the shorter man's bedroom, sitting hesitantly down at the edge of the bed. “But no more girlfriends?”
“No more girlfriends,” Leonard agreed, pulling the covers back. “Coming?”
Sheldon lay down, lying stiffly on his back like a geeky vampire. Leonard was struck by the urge to ask him if he sucked brain cells and could be warded off with reality TV shows. He didn't, as Sheldon would undoubtedly have interpreted this as further proof of Leonard's intellectual inferiority. Instead, he only lay down beside his friend – apparently, his boyfriend now – and pulled the covers up. He flicked the light switch and the room was left in darkness.
“Give me your hand,” Leonard instructed, reaching out underneath the covers for Sheldon's pale, long-fingered hand. Sheldon hesitantly complied, and they went to sleep like that, hands entwined and their shoulders about a foot apart.
Baby steps, Leonard figured. And found himself absurdly happy that they were even making those. He smiled a little in the darkness. He figured he had time enough to teach Sheldon about human relationships. Hand-holding today, proper kissing tomorrow... Who knows, he might even be allowed to make Sheldon come, too, one day. Induce him to eat French toast on oatmeal day, if things went exceptionally well.
Leonard knew perfectly well that he would never be allowed to sit in Sheldon's spot, however. And, strangely enough, he didn't have a problem with that.