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Acoustic Sweet Spot Encounter

Chapter Text

Sheldon muttered under his breath as he stepped out of his car. His day did not go well. First of all, his alarm failed to wake him which caused him to miss Doctor Who at 6:15 am. Then he had to endure a whining Leonard at home after having another fight with Penny that also led to a fight between them. If those weren't enough, he received an email from the University asking him to collaborate with Barry Kripke. Of all people that they could pair up with him, it had to be one of his enemies. He immediately called the head of the Physics department to persuade them to change their minds, only to be rejected and threatened to give the whole project to Kripke, much to his chagrin.

To avoid the overwhelming chain of terrible situations, he decided to get out of the apartment and spend the rest of his Saturday on his own. He stepped inside the movie theater and scanned the list of movies currently showing. He was out of his comfort zone coming here unprepared but he had no choice unless he wanted to get crazy from the chaos within his apartment.

He couldn't decide which movie was worth watching, his eyes shifting between the screens. He clenched his jaw in frustration before settling on 'Lucy', seeing that it was the only science-fiction available. The movie was about to start in 10 minutes so he hurried towards the booth and purchased himself a ticket. He shook his head to clear his thoughts as he entered the theater. He sighed in relief when he noticed that there weren't a lot of people inside even though it was a weekend. He was just about to relax as he walked up to his usual seat when he saw something that made his blood boil in irritation.

Amy shifted in her seat as she tried to get comfortable. Normally, she would've been at home, engrossed in her work but after she finished the paper she had been working on, she finally had time to unwind.

She put her drink back to the cup holder and took her glasses off. Using her sweater, she wiped the lenses and squinted to see if it was spotless again. Once she put it back on, she looked up and jumped in her seat as a man was suddenly towering over her. Thinking that he was looking for a seat down the row, she immediately moved back to let him pass and apologized, "I'm sorry."

She waited, but to no avail, the man stay rooted to his position, a scowl etched on his face. He crossed his arms on his chest and glared at her, "you're in my spot."

Amy gaped at him. Confusion was written all over her face as she tried to comprehend his words. As far as she knew, the theater had no seat reservations and even if it did, she would've still chosen the exact same seat.

She stared back at him and argued, "Excuse me? This theater is free seating and I got here early to make sure I have a good seat."

Sheldon huffed in annoyance. His day probably just got worse and he was torn to either let his annoyance grow or calm himself down to avoid a confrontation with the woman in front of him. However, the words left him before he could even stop himself, "now you listen here little lady. You see, the spot you're sitting on is the acoustic sweet spot. Which you probably didn't know."

He saw the woman open her mouth and he hurriedly continued his tirade, "the acoustic sweet spot is the location in which an individual, in this case me, will be able to hear the optimal sound in places such as movie theaters. Being the reference listening point—"

"The acoustic sweet spot is equidistant between two speakers which creates an equilateral triangle if visualized by a diagram and in the case of surround sound, this is located at a point where the sound waves will arrive simultaneously," Amy had a smug look on her face as she cut him off.

A part of her was a bit annoyed that this man underestimated her. Who did he think he was? Did he really think that he was the only one who was familiar with the term?

After she was done talking, she let her gaze wander over his appearance; his stance was defensive as if trying to show superiority. However, she could not resist giving him a once over as she took in his physique. She wouldn't classify him as muscular, but his broad shoulders and towering height was enough to make her feel things. But she pushed those down and let her annoyance remain in the foreground. Stop it!

She narrowed her eyes at him, "you were saying?"

Sheldon's jaw dropped. His eyes twitched knowing she outsmarted him. Once again, he was torn. He didn't like the fact that she cut him off, much less that she had said what was exactly on his mind. Yet, he suddenly had the urge to continue conversing with this woman.

His posture remained tense as they both glared at each other. Sheldon knew he already lost but he couldn't stop looking back at her. It seemed time moved slowly as they waited for who would cave in first.

Amy sensed his growing agitation and as much as she wanted to assert her rights, she could feel the other occupants of the theater looking at them. She gritted her teeth and sighed heavily; there was no point in arguing as it seemed that she had to be the bigger person. And she didn't plan to spend her day off arguing with a stranger over a seat. "You know what? Fine, you take this seat. I don't know what's got you all distressed but it looks like you need a respite from whatever's troubling you." She shook her head and gathered her belongings. She stood up and head further down the row.

Sheldon blinked.

He got what he wanted and he knew he should've felt relieved but as his eyes followed her retreating form, a tinge of guilt resonated through him.

For a second time that afternoon, he acted before he could think about the consequences. His hand instantly reached out to her wrist, "wait," he whispered.

Amy turned back to him, shocked and confused at the same time. She raised an eyebrow in question while he took his hand back. She continued to observe him, tilting her head as she waited patiently. She figured he must be struggling with his words; his hands were fidgeting and he swallowed as he tried to make eye contact with her. She tried to soften her features; why she even tried to consider his feelings was beyond her.

Sheldon licked his lips and cleared his throat. He looked around and saw a few stares and couldn't help but sigh, "I'm sorry I didn't mean to snap at you."

Amy raised a disbelieving eyebrow, "so why did you?" She asked.

Sheldon scrunched up his nose at the prospect of having to explain his actions. He rarely did it, but with his current situation, it's the least he could do, "it seems that today is 'not my day' as most people put it. I've had a rough morning about work and my roommate was no help at all…I needed an escape and I am very particular on where I sit so when I saw you here...I lost it."

"Okay," Amy said with a nod.

Sheldon furrowed his eyebrows at her simple answer. Most people would respond with an insult or voice out further frustrations regarding his behavior, so it shocked him that she immediately accepted his reason and didn't seem to doubt him. However, he wanted to make sure that there were no grievances between them and opened his mouth to apologize again but the movie already began. He found himself being pulled down to his seat and looked to his right where the woman was already sitting comfortably with her drink in hand.

She gave him a smile, her eyes filled with mirth as her gaze skirted behind them, "I don't think they would appreciate it if you block their view of the movie."

Sheldon managed to smile back at her and nodded his head. Their close proximity was certainly affecting him but he decided to shake it off before he would end up doing something impulsively for the third time.

The first 15 minutes of the movie was spent in relative silence until the scene with Morgan Freeman began. Sheldon couldn't help but roll his eyes. He knew it was science fiction, but still, imagine how many of its audience would blindly believe his words.

"10% may not seem like much but it's a lot if we look at all that we've done with it."

Sheldon scoffed and Amy must've heard him because she let out a chuckle. He turned his head towards her and whispered, "I don't know why you're laughing, but here's a fun fact: the myth that humans only use 10% of their brains was said to have originated from the works of American philosopher and psychologist Wi—"

"William James, specifically in his book 'Energies of Men' written in 1908." Amy stifled a grin after she rendered him speechless again. She decided to use her expertise to shock him further, "fun fact," she gave him a knowing look when she began, "if the 10% myth is true, people who suffer from a brain damage would barely notice the difference or feel any adverse effects, but in reality it is highly impossible for any section of the brain to acquire damage and not have a lasting consequence to an individual's mental and/or physical ability."

Amy couldn't resist the wink she threw his way. She was being openly playful with a stranger and was quite baffled at how ease she was around him. Maybe it was his supposed intelligence. Given that he was familiar with factoids most people would have never heard of and even the vibe he was giving off; something about him exuded brilliance and confidence.

Sheldon was not fairing any better. She beat him twice in a row now and all he could do was stare. He wondered who this woman was? What was her job for her to be familiar with scientific facts? Was she a scientist like him? The annoyance that he anticipated to consume him didn't come. The feeling that erupted from within him was even worse.

He was thrilled.

It was an uncharted territory, a feeling that screamed danger, but still he didn't run off.

He rolled his eyes at her before letting himself smile, why am I even smiling? He asked himself. "Nobody likes a know-it-all," he whispered back.

It was Amy's turn to scoff, "yeah, you might wanna keep that in mind in the future."

They didn't speak for the duration of the movie but they felt the other stealing glances from time to time. Once, Sheldon offered her a Red Vine only to see that she had her own stash. He was beginning to wonder if what was happening was real or if he finally passed out in his apartment that he was dreaming about her. They were too much alike that he's now doubting her existence.

After the movie ended, the lights went back on and people around them began to shuffle out of their seats. They stood up at the same time and an awkward silence descended upon them as they stared at each other.

Amy clutched the strap of her purse and cleared her throat, "I um—I have to…" she stuttered while pointing to the direction of the exit.

Sheldon finally realized he was blocking her way and jumped to the side as he let her pass, "right. Of course, sorry." After she got past him, he followed suit and kept a safe distance from her.

Amy could feel his gaze from behind her and a strange sensation went through her. She didn't know if it was vigilance or interest but she closed her eyes to control her breathing.

When they made it outside the building, Sheldon's gaze went to his car before he spared a glance towards her. He didn't know what to say to her. It wasn't like they had a lengthy conversation and became friends. He also couldn't classify them as acquaintances…he was at loss. He opened his mouth to say anything but it seemed she beat him to it again, a sigh of relief escaped his lips.

Amy smiled as she shrugged her shoulders, "well I have to go. I hope you resolve whatever's troubling you."

Sheldon's hands went to his pockets as he nodded in acknowledgement. He waited for her to approach her car but as she began to walk further away, a frown formed on his face. Is she walking home? He glanced around and saw that the sun had already set. A nagging feeling forced him to call out to her, "wait!"

Amy turned back and looked quizzically at him, "is something wrong?"

Sheldon shook his head, "where's your car?"

Amy blinked in surprise before responding, "I'm just about to pick it up. I had to get it fixed after my car broke down last Thursday."

"Oh," Sheldon felt sorry for her, although he also saw it as an opportunity to at least get to know her. It was too good of a chance to pass up. He quickly jogged beside her and smiled, "may I walk with you?"

Amy furrowed her eyebrows and asked, "don't you have a car?"

Despite this, the thought of being in his presence excited her. She had never met anyone as interesting as him…it was too good of a chance to pass up.

Still, she wanted to be sure, "you're not some maniac, are you? 'Cause I gotta tell you, I managed to break the nose of a TSA agent once and I won't hesitate to do the same with you if you try to get handsy."

Her tone was joking but Sheldon sensed she was also being serious. He raised his hands to tell her that he meant no harm, "I do have a car…just doin' somethin' nice for a lady, ma'am," he replied and bowed his head a little.

He gauged her reaction and saw her still eyeing him suspiciously, "it's three blocks away," she narrowed her eyes.

"We better get a move on then," Sheldon stepped aside and gestured for her to start walking.

Amy gave him one long stare before nodding her head, "very well."

Sheldon smiled and walked beside her. Silence enveloped them once again, but it was surprisingly comfortable unlike the ones they had at the theater. He cast a sideways glance at her and built up the courage to strike up a conversation.

"I don't mean to be intrusive but what is your occupation?" He finally asked. He had a gut feeling, and he hoped he was right.

A smile formed on Amy's lips and she couldn't help but chuckle, "why do you ask?" Even though she knew why, she wanted him to say it out loud.

Sheldon's eyes darted around as he felt embarrassed all of a sudden. However, his curiosity won over him, "you seemed to be well-versed about the human brain…I was wondering if…" he trailed off.

Amy laughed and gave him the answer that he wanted, "I'm a neurobiologist at UCLA."

"I knew it," he laughed. If Sheldon found her interesting then, he was impressed by her now. It seemed that they really were too much alike. "Doctorate?" He admired the proud look on her face as she nodded.

"I went to Harvard for both undergrad and grad studies," Amy turned her head towards him, "what about you?"

"Theoretical Physicist at Caltech, I spent six years to attain two doctorates," he replied with a bit of pride in his voice.

Amy also had an impressed look on her face before she grinned at him, "I can only imagine how stressful it must be for you this morning." She saw his sheepish look and giggled, "it's fine don't worry about it."

Sheldon shook his head, "I really do apologize for my inexcusable behavior. I do not normally behave like that, especially towards a lady such as yourself—"

"'such as yourself'?"

"Well, I—you are very sophisticated. I haven't met any female scientist as quick-witted as you. A woman of your caliber should never be in the receiving end of such horrible manners."

Amy rarely get compliments from anyone much less a man. And yet here was a stranger beside her, saying things about her that no other person had ever said to her. It made her feel appreciated and important. Is this what it feels like to have a friend? She thought to herself. Blush colored her cheeks and she offered him a smile, "thank you."

"I take it you're not from around here?"

Amy shook her head, "I live in Glendale. I've been so busy with work I thought a change of environment is in order."

Sheldon nodded his head. Passers-by littered the sidewalk, their chatter filling in the silence between them. It had been a long time since he took a leisure walk and at that moment he was grateful for it. He realized he needed to have a change of environment as well. He was cooped up in his apartment most of the time if not at work or at the comic book store. It was refreshing to let his mind loosen up and it also didn't hurt that this impromptu activity of his turned out to be an interesting one. To meet someone that might match his intellectual ability was intriguing. Sure, his friends were intelligent people, aside Penny of course, however it still felt different with the woman beside him.

Suddenly, he realized that she came to an abrupt stop and he halted.

Amy smiled and pointed to the establishment behind her, "this is my stop," she said politely. If it were up to her, the night would go on for a bit later. How fun would it be to talk science all night with him? She wondered to herself. Maybe she could ask him to be her friend…but why would he want to be my friend? The discouraging thought crossed her mind. She shook her head and forced herself to smile brightly at him, "thanks for accompanying me."

Sheldon tried to hide his disappointment. He thought the walk would be longer but he knew he can't do anything about it. "You're welcome..." he paused as it dawned on him that he didn't even know her name, "I'm sorry I forgot to ask your name," he remarked.

Amy's face bloomed and she responded enthusiastically, "It's Amy. Amy Farrah Fowler."

Sheldon couldn't deny it to himself, he loved her name. "Nice to formally meet you, Amy Farrah Fowler," a shiver of excitement ran down both their spines as her name rolled off his tongue. Sheldon held out his hand for her to shake, "I'm Sheldon Cooper."

Amy shook his hand and it stayed there a few more seconds than typical handshakes did, "glad to make your acquaintance, Sheldon Cooper." The way it sounded from her lips, made him want to befriend her even more.

As Sheldon stared at her eyes, he willed himself to make the first move. It can't be that hard to make new friends, can it? What harm would it bring? They're just gonna be friends and from their brief interaction today, Sheldon was convinced he had found his intellectual equal.

He cleared his throat and asked, "Amy, would you mind if…we keep in touch? I-I would really like to be your friend."

Amy's jaw dropped. He wants to be my friend! She was silent for a few seconds, making Sheldon squirm in uncertainty. But as she heard her name being called, she went back to reality and plastered another smile on her face. Instead of answering him immediately, she opened her purse and looked for her contact card. Once she was able to retrieve it, she offered it to him, "just so you know, you're gonna be my first friend, so I really want you to think about it," she joked.

Sheldon chuckled as he pulled out his wallet, taking out his own card and exchanging it with hers. "Well I feel both honored and flattered."

It must be the similarities, they thought to themselves, wondering why they felt comfortable interacting with each other.

Sheldon finally took a step back from her and put his hands inside his pockets, "have a good night then, Dr. Fowler."

Amy blushed at being referred by her title and thought it would be nice to return the gesture, "have a good night as well, Dr. Cooper."

Sheldon trekked up the stairs to his apartment with a dazed look on his face. He looked down at the card in his hands and smiled, "Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler," he whispered to himself.

Once he put it back in his wallet, he shook his head, trying to control the emotions evident on his face. If by chance that Penny and Leonard made up and were staying in his living room, he didn't need a third degree of why he was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

He reached the fourth floor landing and stood outside the door. He could hear the sound coming from the television inside and he cleared his throat and tried to school his features. Stop thinking about her now, Cooper.

He opened the door and dropped his keys into the bowl.

"Hey, Sheldon," Penny greeted him.

He went straight to his desk and shrugged out of his windbreaker, feeling the eyes of his roommate on his back.

Leonard stood from his seat beside Penny, "look Sheldon, I'm sorry for how I acted this morning. I shouldn't have taken out my anger towards you. I hope you can forgive me," he said solemnly. He waited with bated breath, hoping that Sheldon wasn't that angry. He had been gone all afternoon and he hesitated to call, afraid that it would make their situation worse. After resolving the issue with Penny, she assured him that Sheldon just needed time on his own from time to time. It eased his mind for a while, but when it went past the time he usually begin his pre-soaking schedule, his worries came back.

As he stood there waiting for Sheldon's response, he suddenly felt that the tall physicist didn't hear him at all. He looked back at Penny who just shrugged her shoulders. He sighed and took a step closer to his best friend. Cautiously, he placed a hand on his shoulder and called his attention.

Sheldon jumped and turned around, holding his phone close to his chest. His eyes darted from Leonard to Penny as he tried to wipe off the smile on his face. Damn it, he thought as he saw the warning signs of Leonard's curiosity over his behavior. He immediately pocketed his phone and said, "I'm sorry I tuned you out, what were you saying?"

Penny and Leonard shared a look before Leonard decided to apologize again, "I'm sorry for this morning. It was wrong of me to direct my anger towards you."

Despite Sheldon's irritation from this morning, he couldn't find it in himself to remain angry at his best friend. After all, he was sure his day was better than Leonard's. As he thought of that, the smile that graced his lips went back and he accepted the apology, "thank you Leonard, apology accepted."

Leonard sighed in relief, although he furrowed his eyebrows at the odd behavior of his roommate. There was something about his smile that he could not decipher. The smile he was accustomed to was quite ominous and resembled a mad man so he asked, "are you alright?"

Sheldon looked at him, confused, "of course, why wouldn't I be?"

Leonard shrugged, "nothing I—so where have you been?" He asked, deciding to let the matter go.

"I went to watch Lucy, surprisingly it was not a crowded theater…it was quite enjoyable."

"Okay…" Leonard replied before his eyes caught the time and noticed that Sheldon would nearly start his laundry, "I'll let you go do your laundry then," he smiled before walking back to the couch.

Sheldon nodded and got his phone out of his pocket, staring once again at the message he just received as soon as he crossed the threshold.

I hope I'm not being too forward with this friendship thing, but I just want to thank you again for walking me to my car. Have a good evening. -A

He turned towards his bedroom, a smile on his face as he typed his response.

Penny raised her eyebrows at that, "was he…smiling down at his phone?"

Leonard looked confused as well, "looks like it…maybe he's writing a complaint to some company and he's letting them have it."

"Eh, you're probably right."

They settled once again, snuggled against each other, unbeknownst to the fact that Sheldon Cooper was enamored by a woman.

Chapter Text

Things went back to 'normal' on Sunday and Leonard was getting suspicious. Sheldon stayed rooted in his desk all day yesterday and every time he tried to see what he was working on, Sheldon would close his laptop and turn to his whiteboard. At first he thought it was work, but as the day went on, the board remained blank and Sheldon was not at all bothered by his lack of progress.

Leonard sneaked a glance towards Sheldon once the traffic light turned red. Something was definitely up since Saturday night and his curiosity was eating him. He cleared his throat and asked, "did something happen to you last Saturday?" Of all the years he had known Sheldon, he learned not to beat around the bush. It was easier to communicate with him with a direct approach to avoid any confusion. The theoretical physicist looked at him with an unreadable expression on his face.

Sheldon could feel his heartbeat against his chest as his mouth opened and closed. He tried to remember if there was something about his behavior that would give away what happened at the movie theater. But with his eidetic memory, he knew he had been cautious enough around his roommate that it was impossible for him to find out. He settled for a snide remark, "aside from you whining like a petulant child and the university punishing me by working with Kripke? I assure you Leonard, that day couldn't have gotten any worse."

Leonard rolled his eyes. Maybe he was giving too much thought about Sheldon's behavior but then again, it was weirder than usual…if it didn't get any worse maybe it was the other way around. "Penny and I saw you smiling on your phone. You started your laundry late, you didn't make any progress, and yet you were still in a better mood," he stated.

Sheldon raised an eyebrow, "did you want me to stay mad at you? Because I have no problem with that, although I would need some context as to why."

Leonard groaned as the light went green. His eyes shifted back to the road as he shook his head, "you know that's not what I meant."

"I have no idea what you meant."

Leonard glared at the road before huffing out a breath, "you're Sheldon. You don't stray from your schedule, you don't smile unless it's because of a koala, and you don't have a mood other than being condescending."

Sheldon pursed his lips, thinking of a way to evade the questioning. He looked outside the window and shrugged his shoulders, "the movie theater adjusted their temperature, I just gave them a strongly worded letter about it…and what's life without whimsy," he muttered and hoped that Leonard would not notice that his eyes were twitching.

Leonard tried to look at him again but failed to notice his ticks so let out a resigned sigh, "you could use a little more of that whimsy," he mumbled.

Amy stared absentmindedly at the wall ahead of her. She had her head resting against the palm of her hand, her mind floating back to the movie theater. After she got home, she immediately added Sheldon to her contacts and sent him a quick text of gratitude. They didn't talk much after that, but he did say that he had an interesting day because of her. They bid each other good night with a hope of talking with each other soon.

And so there she was, letting time fly by as she stayed inside her head. She was supposed to go over her notes for tomorrow's lectures before she found herself distracted. She failed to notice that her assistant was looking at her warily as the young woman typed away on her laptop. It was only when she cleared her throat that Amy snapped out of her reverie. Her assistant tilted her head as if trying to read her making Amy feel guilty of wasting time. She pursed her lips, "yes?"

"Are you alright, Dr. Fowler? You seem distracted."

The next thing that registered in Amy's mind was her constant tapping of the pen against the desk. She put it down and sighed before smiling towards her assistant, "I'm fine Ellie, just thinking about something."

Ellie furrowed her eyebrows, "anything I can do to help?"

Amy appreciated the young woman's concern but shook her head with a smile, "I'm afraid it is not work-related."

Ellie's eyes widened and her face flushed in embarrassment, "oh! I'm sorry for overstepping Dr. Fowler."

The neurobiologist waved off the apology, "you didn't overstep, it's fine. By the way, since I have a full load tomorrow, I'll let you have the day off. You've been such a great help with my last paper, you deserve a day to yourself."

The young brunette nodded enthusiastically, "thank you Dr. Fowler, I'll make sure to send your schedule for the rest of the week before the day ends."

Amy gave a nod before turning back to her notes. She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly, focus Fowler! She opened her eyes and stared at the words in front of her, this is going to be a long day.

Her eyes shifted to her phone and she bit her lip, contemplating the idea that popped into her head. Would it be weird if she texted Sheldon in the middle of the day? She didn't want to seem like a desperate friend, however, her thoughts kept coming back to him. It was both confusing and frustrating for her, she didn't know why she was still thinking about it. What would I even say to him? She thought, her left hand reached out to grab her phone on the table.

She was just about to unlock her phone when it vibrated, making her jump in surprise. A new message notification appeared on her screen and her eyes widened seeing Sheldon's name. It seemed that the universe had already made the choice for her. With shaky hands, she unlocked her phone and the message immediately opened.

Good afternoon, Dr. Fowler. I hope I am not interrupting anything important. I would like to share with you that I have read your latest paper…along with the others credited to your name. -S

Amy's jaw dropped as her right hand flew to her mouth. Oh my, she was thrilled that he was interested enough to read some of her works, considering that Sheldon was physicist. She decided to type a response, completely ignoring the urgent workload in front of her.

Good afternoon, Dr. Cooper. I'm surprised that you have taken an interest in my paper, given that we belong to different fields of science. I would love to hear your thoughts about it, if you are open for a discussion. -A

Amy hoped it did not come across as her demanding his time. It dawned on her that he must have looked her up and suddenly she felt her face flush. Her mind wandered to last night…

It was a rare Sunday that Amy was able to sleep in and start the day late. Her first thought was wondering if yesterday had been a dream. She got her phone from her night stand and checked her messages; seeing Sheldon's name brought a sense of relief to her. It would be cruel and devastating if befriending another person really turned out to be a dream.

She caught up with the shows she was currently following and deep cleaned her apartment after months of putting it off. Soon enough, nightfall came. Amy fixed herself some dinner and sat on the couch. Opening up her laptop, she contemplated for a while if she should read some background on Sheldon Cooper. It's not that she didn't believe him with the way he spoke to her at the movie theater, she knew he was intelligent rather it was genuine curiosity telling her to look him up.

Before she could back out, she typed his name on the search engine, her teeth nibbling on her lower lip in anticipation. On her drive home, she wondered if he had more up in his sleeve, if he was some kind of a household name in the scientific community.

Search results immediately popped up on her screen and she clicked on the first link. It was a Caltech profile; his research interests, contact information, alma mater, and his portrait.

Amy found herself captivated by his photo, a sigh escaping her lips. She looked closer and finally noticed his blue eyes. A small smile appeared on her face; the person she met a while ago did not resemble the man staring back at her now. Maybe because it was a professional photo taken years ago, he wasn't even smiling, yet his gaze was intense as if he'd rather be anywhere else than sitting there to be photographed. Even his short profile was brief and concise, lacking any personality.

She then directed herself to his published papers, most of which were co-authored by another physicist named Leonard Hofstadter. She could feel his passion towards String Theory; even though the math included in his work was beyond her capacity, she figured it must be months' worth of hard work. His grammar was impeccable; he was articulate yet his words were succinct. She also found out he was a recipient of numerous accolades for his contribution to Physics over the course of his career, confirming her assumptions that he was a renowned physicist.

Amy's phone chimed and brought her back to the present.

I'm free this evening if you want. We can have our conversation via Skype. -S

Alright. I look forward to it, Sheldon. -A

As do I, Amy. I'll let you go back now as my 20-minute break is also over. Talk soon. -S

Amy smiled to herself when Sheldon asked for her Skype account, not at all feeling guilty about the time she lost. Surprisingly, after that short exchange, she was able to divert her complete attention back to her work. If she were planning to engage in an intellectual conversation with Sheldon, she'd make sure that her night was free of interruptions.

Sheldon had no idea what possessed him to text her while he was working. He scoffed at himself, 20-minute break? Really? If his friends could see him now, they would never let it go. Sheldon Cooper would never deviate from his work and to find out that a woman…a scientist one at that made him lose all focus, they would surely go out of their way to tease him about it.

He wanted to put the blame on Amy, it was all her fault, he thought to himself. If her credentials weren't so interesting then wouldn't have spent his entire Sunday learning about her achievements and work history. To say he was captivated was an understatement, he was practically glued to his desk chair yesterday while he was reading her work. And while she wasn't a child prodigy like he was, she was close enough. He knew there was nothing wrong with what he was doing but he made sure to be discrete to avoid Leonard's wandering stare.

He looked back at his board and sighed; he had barely done anything since this morning. The unfinished equation stared back at him, daring him to focus on the mysteries of the universe, but as hard as he tried, something was holding him back.

But now, after talking to Amy, he finally willed himself to focus and fortunately made a bit of a progress on his work.

After work, they picked up their usual food at the Siam Palace. Leonard was glad for the silence during the drive over back to their apartment. He sensed that maybe Sheldon was in the zone, which would explain why he didn't join them over for lunch or why he was late for a few minutes than their usual meet up time after work.

They arrived just in time before the others entered their apartment. Yet, Sheldon saw it coming. The moment he sat down to eat his dinner, the conversation around him began. He merely tuned them out to deal with his own thoughts and ideas that swirled around his brain. That was until Howard called his attention, he looked back at the engineer and raised an eyebrow, "what?"

"You didn't join us for lunch today and your assistant said you were pretty busy, any luck?"

Sheldon rolled his eyes before he opened his mouth to answer but Penny interjected him and looked at Howard, "look at you, missing Sheldon all of a sudden," she teased.

Bernadette giggled beside her husband, "never thought I'd see the day."

Sheldon grumbled, "anyway, to answer your question Howard, first I would like to point out that I do not believe in luck, which is a complete hokum. But if you were inquiring about my progress in my work then unfortunately…no, I am currently moving slowly with String Theory."

The group offered him words of encouragement which he appreciated even though he would deny it if asked. Right now, finishing this dinner affair was the first thing on his mind. He couldn't help but to check the time frequently and time seemed slower than normal. He tried to join in on the conversation with the others to distract himself and it helped even a little. So when all of them were done and the chatter died down, he was close to jumping out of his seat and retreating immediately to his room.

His knee kept bobbing up and down as he waited for his friends to leave his apartment. He resisted to roll his eyes as they bid each other good night while he checked the time on his phone. He promised Amy he would call and he himself was looking forward to it. Once the door closed behind them, he shot up from his seat and strode towards his desk. He grabbed his laptop before making his way towards the bedroom, failing to notice the questioning look from Leonard.

He settled on his bed, suddenly feeling nervous of seeing Amy's face through the screen. He shook his head and called her. In just few seconds, Amy's face appeared on his screen, her smiling face brought a sense of relief over him. He let a faint smile grace his lips, "hello."

Amy's sigh was audible enough for him to here, he wondered if it was a reaction from seeing him. He observed her face and he felt a flutter in his chest which only intensified when she greeted him, "good evening Sheldon."

"How was the rest of your day?" He asked.

"It was fine, nothing exciting," Amy wrinkled her nose as she replied. "I spent the day looking over my notes for tomorrow."

Sheldon's interest piqued and couldn't help but ask, "tomorrow?"

Amy nodded, "yes, I teach part time to grad students when I don't have my lab hours. I think it's the university's way of keeping me as part of the faculty," she chuckled.

Sheldon had a sudden realization that even surprised him, "I must say Amy, getting to know you made me think about something."

Amy furrowed her eyebrows, "really?"

Sheldon nodded, "yes. I always thought that, given I am an alpha male, my personality resembles a blazing fire and everyone's moth-like personality makes them drawn towards me. But it seems in this friendship, the roles have been reversed."

Amy hoped Sheldon did not notice the shiver that went through her as she processed his words. They were both silent, staring at each other before Amy took a deep breath, "are you implying that you are drawn to me?"

"I'm not implying it, I'm stating it out right. You're an interesting person Amy, I'm glad we're starting a friendship."

It felt foreign to Sheldon, to hear those words coming out of his mouth. Being this honest about his perception towards another person was not his strong suit, yet he had proven himself wrong just now. He mentally shook his head, he felt like a paradox.

Amy can only smile at that, "why thank you Sheldon, I find you interesting as well," she paused and dared to ask the question that had been on her mind the whole day, "is that…is that why you looked me up?"

Oh she saw him blush alright, she was certain. Sheldon shrugged before nodding his head, "I really admired your paper, Amy…and since we're on the subject, I have a few questions for you."

Sheldon noticed that her entire demeanor changed as soon as he broached the subject of her paper. The confidence surrounding her was even more visible, he figured this must be her persona in the workplace.

Amy's face bloomed, finally getting to talk about her passion for neuroscience, "okay shoot."

Leonard was on his way to his own room when he heard noises from Sheldon's room. He stopped short and leaned closer to his roommate's door. His voice was muffled but he was sure that Sheldon was talking. However, he was too tired to even try to figure out what he was doing. For all he knew, Sheldon could already be dreaming, it wouldn't be the first time that he would wake up with his best friend sleep talking. He rolled his eyes before he entered his bedroom.

Amy was enjoying answering Sheldon's question about her paper and all her previous work. It had been a while since she talked about something she enjoyed without being dismissed or ridiculed for it. It was a nice change. Other than her sister, nobody in her family really paid attention to her and her career, as if getting the highest degree in academia was nothing…despite the fact that her parents were the one that instilled the value of education in her mind.

As their conversation droned on, she felt her eyes getting heavy, the excitement coursing through her veins a while ago was waning. She spent her afternoon finalizing her notes and making sure that her night was cleared so she could have this Skype session with Sheldon. She was regretting it now, though, as she tried to fight off sleep. It was difficult with the smoothness of Sheldon's voice echoing from her laptop. He was talking about something…wanting to go somewhere, she didn't even know if she heard him right.

She must have dozed off because the next thing she heard was Sheldon calling her name. Her eyes snapped open and blinked rapidly as her eyes adjusted. She saw his amused face and couldn't help but frown, "I'm sorry for dozing off like that, I must be more tired than I thought." The yawn that escaped her just proved her exhaustion. She immediately covered her mouth and looked sheepishly back at Sheldon. "Sorry," she added quietly.

Sheldon just chuckled, "it's fine Amy, we'll just continue another day. You better get some rest, I wouldn't want you to suffer tomorrow while giving your lecture, those students would miss out on your brilliance," he said. He was planning to ask her to accompany him to attend a book event but he knew it wasn't the time.

Amy managed to smile and nod her head, "I'll talk to you tomorrow, Sheldon. Thank you for this evening, I haven't had fun like this in a long time," she responded, her voice already on the verge of whispering. She transferred her laptop on the empty space of her bed and snuggled under the covers. "Good night, Sheldon."

Sheldon had a soft smile on his face as he watched Amy struggle to keep her eyes open. After she was nestled comfortably in her bed—the setting which he tried to not give too much thought despite how intimate it felt—he bid her good night quietly, "good night Amy…sleep well."

The last he saw was Amy's smiling face and the little wave she gave him before the window disappeared. He let a few moments pass, his mind imprinted with the memory of today's series of exchange between them. He smiled, feeling content and happy.

He noticed it was past his bedtime so he hurried to finish his nightly routine, cautiously moving around the bathroom lest Leonard would wake up from his movements.

After he got under the covers, he replayed the events of the day in his head once more. He might not have been productive with his work so far, but somehow he felt like he took a step forward regarding his friendship with Amy and to appease himself, he let himself believe that they made progress in that area.

Chapter Text

Amy paced in front of the empty auditorium as she tried to calm her nerves. She had done this countless times and yet she would still feel anxious right before starting. Today however, it seemed to have amplified and she had no idea why. Her hands kept wringing at her sides while she murmur the words she needed to say in front of her students.

An idea crossed her mind and before she could talk herself out of it, she picked up her phone from the table and typed a message to Sheldon:

Are you busy? -A

She returned to her pacing and didn't have to wait long to receive a response. She couldn't stop the smile on her face as she read his reply.

Not really. I'm waiting for my boss. How's the lecture? -S

It's about to start in 20 minutes and I'm a bundle of nerves right now. Got any tips? -A

Amy paused and leaned against the desk as she waited for a reply, her foot unconsciously tapping against the floorboards of the platform. Her phone chimed and her eyebrows raised at his reply.

Have you tried reciting pi to a thousand places? -S

She stared at her phone, her eyes narrowing in confusion, trying to figure out if he was mocking her.

Is that even a thing? -A

Sheldon's reply came immediately.

Yes. I do it to pass the time and it works. -S

Amy sighed while trying to ignore the knots in her stomach.

Anything else? -A

Sheldon tried to think of other ways to distract Amy as he waited outside Gablehauser's office. With his eidetic memory, it only took him a few seconds to figure something out and he typed his response with a smirk on his face.

Do you want to hear the story of when the FBI went to our house when I was a kid? -S

After receiving Amy's go signal, Sheldon launched into recounting his childhood memory which caused a great deal of stress for both of his parents. He thought it might help Amy to keep her mind off of her restlessness. He told her about how he tried to build a small nuclear reactor for their neighborhood in Galveston. He chuckled to himself as he recalled that experience. After finishing his story, he wondered if he were successful in calming her down, it was the least he could do after all.

Did it work? -S

Did what work? -A

Sheldon shook his head and just as he was about to reply, Gablehauser's secretary caught his attention and motioned towards the door. He fired off a quick text of wishing her well once again before he stood up and entered the office.

Leonard didn't know what could've happened during the day that caused Sheldon to be quiet when they arrived at the Cheesecake Factory. He didn't even complain that there was loud music playing in the background and not even a word of condescension to Penny as she tried to greet him with exaggerated cheerfulness.

Penny's eyes sweep over the other three men and silently asked what happened. They could only shrug in return knowing that with Sheldon, anything could have set off his unusual behavior.

Leonard, Howard, and Raj spent the better part of the night catching up with the shows they have been watching and talking about the latest university gossip that Howard seemed to have eavesdropped on. It wasn't until Sheldon started to tick, quite loudly, that they noticed him looking at a distance, his face void of any emotion.

The others shared a look before Raj reached out to wave his hand in front of Sheldon, "dude are you okay?"

Sheldon seemed to snap out of his trance and looked directly at Leonard, "can we go now?" He didn't wait for an answer and stood up from his seat.

Leonard glared at Sheldon's back, "he seems to forget I don't drive him around anymore." He took out his phone and sent a message to Sheldon telling him that he would be staying behind with Howard and Raj. The immediate response he got caused him to roll his eyes; it wasn't the first time that Sheldon resulted to responding with an insult if he didn't get his way.

The next day, Sheldon was no different; he remained silent all morning in their apartment and even though the behavior was welcomed by Leonard, he was beginning to think that maybe something was really bothering his best friend.

When they met him in the cafeteria for lunch, he was making incoherent noises and the three of them stared at Sheldon as they ate their food.

Raj looked at him wearily with a grimace etched on his face, "what did you do to him, Leonard?"

Leonard snorted, "I didn't do anything."

Howard raised an eyebrow, "so what, does he need an upgrade? Is he finally glitching?" He asked jokingly, which earned a laugh from both Raj and Leonard. Sheldon seemed to be unaware of his surroundings and kept pushing his food around his plate.

Leonard gave him a look a few seconds later before he shook his head, "he went to Gablehauser the other day about his new project with Kripke. I think it didn't go well. I tried to ask him yesterday but he wouldn't tell me what Gablehauser said to him," he explained.

"So he's really gonna be working with Barry Kripke?" Raj clarified.

"Seems like it, yeah," Leonard sighed.

Suddenly, they were interrupted by the sound of Sheldon's phone. He looked surprised before getting his phone out of his pocket. They watched as his posture deflated while looking at his screen. They were about to ask him who it was but Sheldon got up from his seat and walked out of the cafeteria. Three confused faces followed his retreating form as Howard decided to break the silence, "is it just me or has been disappearing a lot lately?" He asked, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.

By Thursday evening, Amy already felt her energy spent for the rest of the week. She dropped herself on the bed not caring that she was still wearing her work clothes. She had forgotten to thank Sheldon for helping her the other day and only managed to tell him yesterday that she was sorry for missing his call as she was very busy at the moment. Since then she didn't have the time to send him a message and now she was just feeling guilty for taking too long to extend her gratitude towards him.

She spared a glance at her watch before her eyes landed on her phone and thought she might as well thank him now lest she forgot about it again. Yet, her fingers hovered over the screen, her eyes scanning his unanswered messages asking if she had a free time. She was beginning to worry that Sheldon might think of her as ungrateful for leaving him on read. It may be one of the moments that Amy realized she wouldn't have a problem with if she didn't have any friends.

She shook her thoughts away, her earlier confidence fading away with it. I'll call him tomorrow, she told herself. It might be better to apologize in such manner rather than leaving him a message and risk it being interpreted as her avoiding him on purpose…at least that's what she was trying to believe.

As the school week was coming to an end that Friday night, Sheldon knew he was being unreasonable with his anger. His friends didn't deserve to be treated like they were the ones at fault. But as the news of Raj's paper being featured in American Journal of Physics, his logic and reasoning went out the window. His anger wasn't warranted, he knew that, it was only fueled by confusion, disappointment, and jealousy after having that conversation with Dr. Gablehauser.

Unfortunately, the one person he was comfortable enough to talk to about it was unavailable, and that fact even added to his confusion: why her, of all people? Why was she the first person he could think of to help him understand his problem? Why did he not feel like opening up to Leonard, his best friend? What was it about her that made him feel like this?

He lashed out once again before he could stop himself, "if you think that Raj's achievement is great the—"

"Okay that's enough! What is wrong with you?" Leonard asked angrily at him. All of them had noticed Sheldon's behavior for the past four days and they were done dealing with it.

Sheldon glared at him, "oh I'm sorry have I done something wrong?"

"Yes!" All of his friends answered him.

The lanky physicist gaped at them, "Well it's not my fault that y—"

"No, Sheldon. This is all on you. You have been impossible for the last couple of days, blowing up on people for no reason and disappearing all of a sudden," Leonard countered him.

"Yeah and you know what? Maybe you're just threatened of Kripke. Are you afraid that he's gonna do a better work than you? Put his name first on the project you're working on together?" Howard knew he hit a spot as Sheldon's glare became focused on him. He was livid.

Sheldon's body tensed, his jaw clenched in anger. It had been boiling up inside him and all of a sudden his resolve cracked.

"That's it, isn't it? You're threatened and possibly jealous that Kripke might just be a better scientist than you. So you have to take it out on everyone instead o—"

"This is not about Kripke!" Sheldon shouted.

Silence followed his outburst. His eyes widened at his own words, his heart beating erratically against his chest. He needed to get out. Fast. However, he seemed rooted on his spot by the kitchen. His eyes shifted rapidly between his friends as if he were looking for a way out in each of them. He opened his mouth to excuse himself but found it difficult to get the words out of his mouth. Without thinking, he grabbed his jacket, his phone, and his car keys before fleeing out of his own apartment.

The group remained seated in the living room looking at each other. Bernadette cleared her throat, "so…"

Penny waved her hand in dismissal, "he's gonna be fine, he needs his space."

Leonard sighed, "yeah, unless he would be gone again for hours without telling us where he is."

Amy sat on her couch with a heavy sigh. The week had been surprisingly stressful for her after cutting back her lab hours and focusing more on lecturing. She thought it would give her more leisure time but clearly she was wrong. Her professor duties took up a lot of time that she barely had time to herself. Her mind suddenly drifted back to the messages and missed calls on her phone. She sighed again remembering that she promised herself to get back to him as soon as possible.

She took out her phone and checked the time; it's around 8pm and assumed that Sheldon might already be home. She wondered what he wanted to talk to her about since he was being persistent for the past couple of days. He didn't mention anything in his messages.

Without giving any more thought to it, she pulled up his number and called. Seconds ticked by and the phone just kept ringing. It was possible that he was still working and she was about to hang up when the call was answered. However she was shocked at his tone, "what do you want?" She heard him ask with a harsh tone.

Genuinely confused, Amy was silent for a moment before she answered timidly, "Sheldon?"

"Oh!" She heard Sheldon exclaimed. "I'm sorry Amy I didn't know it was you. I'm driving right now, can I call you back? It will only take a few minutes."

Relief washed over her and she replied almost instantly, "of course, Sheldon. I'll talk to you in a few."

"Okay," he replied before ending the call.

Sheldon pulled his phone away from his ear when he heard her voice. True enough, it was Amy who called him and he immediately felt guilty. After apologizing and promising to get back to her, he focused back on the road and stopped at the nearest ice cream parlor he could find.

With an ice cream in hand, he took a seat on a corner table and called Amy. She answered immediately, "hello Amy," he greeted her properly with a smile forming on his lips.

"Hi Sheldon," he couldn't be sure but it sounded like she was breathless.

They didn't speak, just listening to each other's breathing through the phone, each wondering who would try to break the silence between them.

Sheldon eventually cleared his throat and called her attention, "Amy?"

From the other end of the line, Amy snapped out of her trance and responded, "yeah?"

"Any reason for your call?"

"Actually yes. I want to thank you for your help the other day, your story distracted me enough," she said with a chuckle. "We also can't seem to get hold of each other recently and you didn't specify any details in your texts, so I thought I would call to ask about it." I also want to talk to a friend after a grueling week, she thought to herself.

Sheldon was glad he was alone and they weren't speaking over Skype because he wouldn't know how to explain why his face turned a deep shade of red, "well I was uhm…wondering if you would be interested in…going to a book launch with me this Sunday?" He lied partially. I also needed a rational mind to talk to about things I am dealing with but I don't want to burden you with it anymore, he added in his head.

"What is it about?"

"Well, my former doctoral adviser invited me on the launch of his new book and I was wondering if you'd like to accompany me. My roommate doesn't want to go and I can't think of anybody else who would enjoy such an event."

"I would be glad to join you, Sheldon," she hoped he could hear the elation in her voice.

"Great, I'll send you the details so we can meet there at 3pm, is that alright?"

"Yes, of course."

"Alright I'll see you then."

Before he could hang up the phone, Amy thought back to his earlier behavior and asked, "Sheldon wait."

"What is it?"

"You sounded upset a while ago, is everything okay?"

Should he really open up to her? Yes, he wanted her opinion about his current dilemma with Kripke but would it be appropriate? They barely know each other, heck they only met one time and yet he had been seeking her wisdom for days now. It didn't make sense to Sheldon, he had tried to figure it all out on his own, ask his friends' advice but that didn't turn out quite well as he managed to snap at them at every turn. It barely registered on his mind that he had sighed loudly until Amy called his name, "Sheldon?"

He cleared his throat, his mind made up, "well I do have a bit of situation and I'd like you to weigh in," he began before letting his voice trail off, waiting for her response.

Amy became curious and said, "alright, I'll see what I can do."

"Remember when we met I mentioned a work problem?" He asked and didn't wait for an answer before he dove into details. "Caltech gave me a project to work on with a rival and I tried to convince them that I could work on the project on my own but they rejected my proposal."

"Why do you even have a rival at work?"

Sheldon rolled his eyes at her question, "I don't like him! He goes out of his way to make me miserable at work and competing against me." His small outburst was accompanied with him stabbing his spoon on his melting ice cream. He sighed as he twirled his spoon on the pink viscous liquid, "I tried to convince the head of our department again and they told me that Kripke was the one who asked for my participation in the project."

"So what's the problem?"

He sighed in frustration once again, "it means that Caltech clearly favors his work over mine! I was under the impression that they've chosen both of us, at least me as the lead researcher, to work on this." When Amy stayed silent, Sheldon released a quiet sigh and said, "I apologize for putting this on you. It's just that, this week had been frustrating enough that my friends took the brunt of it, I needed a neutral space."

Amy couldn't resist the chuckle that came out of her mouth, "you're a flight risk aren't you?"

Sheldon furrowed his eyebrows, "what do you mean?"

Amy shook her head in amusement. Despite being a genius, there still seemed to be a part of him that needs a little guidance, "you went to the movie theater to escape the same problems you have now and you're doing it again. I'm not saying it's bad or wrong, it's normal for people to seek solace when things are getting to much…so where are you now?"

Sheldon had to agree with her. It wasn't the first time that he bolted out of a situation as soon as he felt out of control. "I drove around for a while and now I'm eating strawberry ice cream."

Amy laughed and shook her head, "I didn't peg you for a strawberry kind of person."

Sheldon scoffed at her, "what's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing," Amy giggled. "I was thinking you're more of a vanilla type of guy…but anyway, back to your problem."

Sheldon heard her deep sigh and waited patiently, "Sheldon, don't you think you're blowing this out of proportion?" He opened his mouth to objectject but Amy cut him off, "hear me out. Look, I get that you're upset about the dynamic of this project but try looking at it this way; yes, Caltech chose this Dr. Kripke to handle this project most probably because of his own merit and I know you don't like it but doesn't it make you feel good that Dr. Kripke specifically chose you to work with him? And if he asked for you and Caltech approves it, doesn't it mean that your University also knows what you're capable of?"

"But I have seniority over him," he whined in reply.

"Okay, but what's the focus of the project?"

Sheldon rolled his eyes, "particle physics," he mumbled.

Amy had to stifle her smile even though he cannot see her. She cleared her throat and knew from his tone that she was getting to him, "and what branch of physics is this Dr. Kripke in?"

"Alright fine, he may be more qualified than I am but the fact remains that I've been in Caltech longer than him," he surrendered, knowing full well that being a particle physicist, Kripke was more suitable to get the project.

"And don't you think that getting you to work with him is proof that he values your work? I'm sure Caltech has a lot of great physicists but he chose you. That means something."

Sheldon let her words sink in. He mulled over the implications of Barry's decision and couldn't help but admit that he may have looked at the situation in a wrong angle. However, there's still a part of him that was worried of how he will be treated while working together. The last couple of days, Kripke had been nicer than usual to him, it made him think that it was all just a ploy to trick him or humiliate him.

His then thought of the woman on the other end of the line; how she managed to reassure him, he didn't know. He suddenly had the urge to thank her profusely, "Amy?"


"Thank you." So much, he wanted to add.

From her apartment, Amy smiled softly. She was glad to help him. "You're welcome," she replied sweetly.

"How about you? How was your week?" He asked.

"Hmm it was fine…more stressful than I originally thought. Although something funny happened today," she informed him with a soft laugh.

"Oh do tell," Sheldon reacted, intrigued.

"Well, I have a student who's tardiness is incomparable I don't even check his name anymore, I just assume he's late as he always is. Today, as usual he was late, but the kid had the audacity to approach me after my lecture and ask for a special class."

"How is that funny?" Sheldon asked, totally confused by her story.

Amy burst out laughing, "he was also trying to flirt, Sheldon," she explained. She expected him to laugh but instead she was met with silence. "Sheldon?"

He didn't know where the sinking feeling in his stomach came from but he suddenly lost appetite for the sweet treat he was eating. Her words caught him off guard, forming a question in his head, "does that happen often?" He asked hesitantly.

It was Amy's turn to get confused but decided to answer him nonetheless, "well no not really," she said with a snort. "I mean have you seen me? Men don't particularly give me the time of day. Which made my story even funnier because my student must be pretty desperate to stoop that low," she shook her head with a breathy chuckle.

Sheldon nodded his head slowly, "right," he replied quietly. "I'll see you Sunday, then?"

"Yes, I'm looking forward to it. Have a good night."

Sheldon hang up the phone after wishing her good night. He pocketed his phone and looked out on the street, watching pedestrians and vehicles pass by with a heavy sigh.

"So are we really just gonna ignore the fact that Sheldon's been running off more than usual?" Howard asked.

"Would you rather he stay here and continue his tirade?" Leonard retorted.

"Still nothing?" Penny inquired.

Leonard checked his phone again just as the door of the apartment opened. They turned their heads and found Sheldon with his head bowed ever so slightly. He closed the door behind him and cleared his throat, fixing his gaze on Raj.

"I apologize for my earlier behavior, I was jealous of your achievement and it was wrong of me to invalidate it. I have read your work and it was really good."

Their blank faces stared back at him as they tried to process his words. Raj was the first one to react and smiled timidly at his friend, "thank you and I accept your apology," his tone still laced with confusion.

Sheldon sighed in relief before he turned his attention to the others, "I'm sorry too. You took the brunt of my anger and that was unacceptable."

Leonard looked at him with sympathy, "can you just tell us what happened then?"

Sheldon took a deep breath and crossed his arms over his chest. He shrugged his shoulders and told them what transpired during his talk with Gablehauser. Once he was done, he crossed the living room quietly and discarded his windbreaker by his desk chair. He turned back once again to his friends and gave them a faint smile, "Good night."

He turned to the hallway before any of them could respond. He didn't want to see their pity or them trying to affirm the quality of his work. He'd rather have a quiet night to himself and try to focus on the words he wanted to come to terms with, Kripke chose me to work with him. That means something.