Sitting in his spot on the couch, Sheldon double checked the time in the corner of his laptop screen once again. It was getting late and Leonard still wasn't home. Having left the university together at their regular time, Leonard had dropped the man off at the apartment complex insisting he had somewhere to be but that he'd be home later. That was hours ago. Sheldon didn't like to consider himself as a man who was dependent on others or well, dependent on Leonard but the truth was he did often find the man's absence unpleasant.
He took a deep breath in and let it out, trying to focus on something else until his roommate got home. Perhaps he'd play some more Age of Conan to get his mind off of things.
As he booted up the game and went to search for his headphones, his mind inevitably went to reasons as to why Leonard was out so late. There were lots of possibilities of course. Maybe he had an emergency work thing, perhaps he was visiting with Koothrappali or he had had a sudden urge to visit the comic shop. All of which were perfectly rational and although it would irk Sheldon slightly to find out he'd kept any of them a secret, he'd be satisfied with the answers.
Of course, there was also the other more unpalatable of the options; that Leonard was out with Leslie Winkle of all people.
Sheldon made a noise of disgust in his throat as he sat down again to begin playing. He sighed at the thought of his roommate out wining and dining the woman. Why on earth did he have to choose someone like her to date?
Why did he insist on wasting such time dating women at all? Why not simply be content with a life full of physics, of comic books, of good food and friends?
Sheldon swore he would never understand that man. As he logged on to his virtual game world, he focused on the many missions and objectives that littered the side of his screen though his mind was still persistently elsewhere.
Sheldon thought about how quiet their apartment was without the other man's gentle presence. He idly glanced over to the kitchen table and the darkened space there. He wondered if Leonard was having dinner with Leslie or just skipping straight to the coitus. He rolled his eyes in frustration and turned his attention back to his game. If the man wanted to be with Leslie then fine, that was his decision but he would be sure to point out to him when he returned that it was a stupid decision none the less!
There was a loud booming of thunder that echoed through the apartment from outside and Sheldon slid his headphones all the way off to listen more intently. A thunderstorm was approaching. He slowly set down his laptop on his seat and wandered over to the window, watching as the rain began to come down hard against the panes of glass.
Thinking of Leonard once again, he began to worry about the man's less than safe driving methods while out on the road. He quickly calculated how long it had been since he'd gotten a tire rotation done and a windshield wiper check. Realizing that it was silly to worry about his roommate like this, Sheldon quickly marched back over to his laptop and focused back on his game.
“This is ridiculous!” He began complaining aloud to himself and the empty apartment. “Why should I be concerned with Leonard when he's not at all concerned with me and how I feel about the situation?”
He begrudgingly clicked on a new objective in his game and set about completing it though his mind still would not let the issue rest.
The fact was, Leonard was out with Leslie Winkle right now having a blast and not at all concerned with how it was making him feel. The nerve!
Sheldon wondered if the man ever really concerned himself with how he felt about things. He often fought him on most of the by-laws of their roommate agreement. He liked to argue with him about the proper ways of eating, of showering, of just about everything! By god, Leonard seemed incapable of just letting things go. It was always such a battle with him!
It was enough to make the physicist question why he put up with him at all.
Sheldon sat back from his game, removing his headphones once more as he thought about it. Why did he seem to put up with Leonard all the time? His moodiness, his annoying bathroom habits, why did Sheldon often just deal with it instead of finding a new roommate?
Setting his laptop down on the coffee table in front of him, Sheldon continued talking aloud to himself. “Well, he has lived here for many years already and we have a ritual already in place. It would be difficult to find someone else to come onboard so readily to replace him and even more difficult to ensure they follow proper protocols.”
“It's not all bad.” Sheldon reasoned wisely. “I do like his comic collection.”
The silence of the apartment around him was all that answered his musings aloud and Sheldon knew deep down that he was just kidding himself really. The reason he put up with the other physicist was simple. He needed him.
The fact that he didn't seem to need him back was beyond hurtful, it was... excruciating, in fact.
Sheldon stared at his hands as they lay across his khaki clad thighs. Could it be that Leonard didn't feel the same way towards him as he did? He'd been operating under the assumption for so very long that the two were friends, best friends and... perhaps even more than that were he to really consider their relationship.
Sheldon had thought that, perhaps one day things would eventually take their course as often relationships do and the two may move into a more romantic engagement together. Of course this was something that was going to take work and additional drafts of their agreement would need to be drawn up. But that was all in the far flung future and not up for discussion any time soon. No, right now, Leonard was far more interested in pursuing the various women that seemed to flutter in and out of his life.
But what if... what if he'd been wrong all along? What if Leonard had never felt this way towards him?
What if he had but the especially long amount of time that it had taken for Sheldon to act in response had spurred him on to their new next door neighbor Penny? He hadn't given the idea much thought upon her arrival as they were very incompatible and so he hadn't fretted one bit about her.
Their recent catastrophic date had more than proven him correct in that regard and thus any concerns he'd had had been laid bare then and there.
But Leslie's sort of revolving door appearances had complicated things. Now here he was on a Thursday night all alone, awaiting the return of the man so they could have dinner and chat and pretend like things were normal when they were anything but.
Was he wrong? Was he mistaken? Did they not share a closeness that Sheldon had regarded as deeply strong and perhaps even loving?
Exiting his game and shutting down his laptop, Sheldon considered just ordering food for dinner and going to bed. He didn't want to be there when Leonard inevitably returned home from his amorous night with Leslie. He didn't want to hear about it or even see the look on the man's face. He was sure he'd be subject to it in their shared morning car ride to work.
As he began to put his laptop away on his desk, a key sounding in the lock signaled his roommate's return. Sheldon quickly pushed away the bitter feelings collecting in his chest in an effort to disguise his displeasure from his friend.
“Sorry! Ugh, it's pouring out there!” Came Leonard's voice as he entered carrying an armful of brown bags of take-out.
Sheldon squinted at him in confusion as he struggled to set them all down on the coffee table in front of him.
“I'm sorry I'm late. There was a huge wreck over by the Siam Palace and I got held up at Leslie's-”
“Oh good lord!” The taller man immediately rolled his eyes and began heading to his bedroom, not wanting to hear any more.
“Wait, where are you going?” Leonard asked in confusion, adjusting his glasses. “I got us food.” He gestured at the bags on the table.
Sheldon stopped just short of the hallway and glared at his roommate. “I do not wish to hear about your amorous encounter with that nonsensical woman!”
“What? Amorous encounter? I was just over there returning her bow to her. She left it here the last time she was over!” Leonard put his hands on his hips impatiently as he stared at his roommate hovering near the hallway. “What are you so upset about?”
Sheldon stepped back into the living room. “What? So you've decided to abandon your quest to betroth Leslie Winkle now?”
Leonard laughed at the absurdity. “Betroth? Uh, yeah, I can pretty safely say that's not going to happen!”
Glancing at the food on the table, Sheldon shyly gestured towards it. “What's that?”
“It's... dinner. I got us some Thai food, I know it's not Monday or whatever but it was raining and I wanted some pad thai. I'm sorry I was so late but come over here and sit down and eat before it gets cold.”
“Oh. I see.” Sheldon remained where he was, his face twisting into interesting expressions.
There was a stretch of silence between the two as Leonard stared at the other man in confusion. “Are... you okay? It's not going to hurt your digestive system to eat Thai food on a Thursday, Sheldon!”
Sheldon moved to sit down in his spot resignedly and began unpacking the food, avoiding the man's gaze. “I know.”
“Then why are you upset?”
“I'm not. Why wouldn't I be?” He was going to pretend like nothing happened, he had to. He didn't want to discuss this with the man.
Leonard wasn't letting it go however. “Are you sure? You seem really angry with me.” He sat down in his armchair beside him and watched as the man avoided every attempt to meet his eyes. “I said I was sorry. It's really storming out there. I tried to get home with the food as soon as I could.”
“That's not why I was upset.”
“So you are upset?”
“No... I'm not.”
“Yes, you are! You just said you were!” Leonard began shouting energetically and Sheldon leveled his gaze with him.
The physicist sighed, setting aside his Mee Krob. “Alright, I was a little upset at your absence. I just assumed you had gone off to be with Winkle and take out your amorous affections on her rather than dine with me tonight.”
“And that would make you mad?”
“Well... it appears that I have grown rather attached to you and our rituals over the years.”
That was all Leonard needed to hear and he quickly let it go, beginning to pull out his own portion of the food. “Ah. Well, that makes sense. I'm sorry I ruined your carefully timed schedule.”
“That's not what I meant, but thank you.”
“What did you mean then?”
Sheldon paused his digging through his food, fork in hand and thoughtfully stared at his roommate sitting beside him. A small strand of dark, curly hair fell down over his forehead as he was digging through his own food. The perspiration outside had drenched the bespectacled man and his hair was wet with the rain.
Sheldon smiled. “I just missed you and the thought of you out with Winkle infuriated me.”
This made the man pause once more, glancing up curiously at him. “Wait, what?”
“I do not wish for you to continue pursuing Leslie. I do not wish for you to continue pursuing Penny or rather any other lifeform that comes walking through that door over there. I simply wish for you to stay here with me so that we may continue our life together uninterrupted.”
Leonard stared at Sheldon in shock, gears seeming to click into place in his mind. “Do you... do you mean you want to pursue a romantic relationship with me?”
Sheldon took a bite of his Mee Krob and nodded lightly. “That would be arguably preferable to our current situation and I wouldn't have to witness your constant struggling to appeal to the opposite sex.”
Staring at the far wall of the apartment, Leonard found himself at a loss for words. He considered the man's statement before pushing his food away entirely and leaning closer to the man. “Sheldon, I... do you... do you know what you're saying?”
“Yes. I want us to move forward in our relationship to the next inevitable step so that I don't have to deal with these shenanigans anymore.” The man paused, a look of concern crossing his face. “Unless... you do not wish to move forward?”
Leonard worked his mouth to form the next words but failed to utter a sound. His mind was reeling. “No, it's not that. It's just... this is the absolute last thing I expected you to say when I got home tonight!”
Sheldon shrugged and continued eating. “Well, take your time with the idea. It's not the kind of thing we have to address tonight.” He grabbed the remote and began to turn on the TV to find something for them to watch.
“Hang on!” Leonard interrupted him and snatched the remote away. “You can't just drop something like this on me and then turn on Battlestar!”
“Is Battlestar on tonight?” Sheldon asked innocently.
Taking a deep breath in and out, Leonard ran over the idea in his head of a romantic relationship with Sheldon Cooper. It wasn't like he was opposed to the idea, in fact, it sounded oddly alluring in a way. Taking a second to think it over, Leonard smiled at his best friend and slid the remote back over to him. “Alright, I've thought about it and... I... accept.”
“You accept what?”
“I think that it's worth exploring, a relationship between the two of us. You know, going further with it.”
“Oh, good!” Sheldon said and turned on Battlestar causing Leonard to stare at him in shock.
When Sheldon noticed the look on his face, he matched it with one of his own. “What? Ya wanna watch Deep Space Nine instead?”