It had taken far too much chocolate and wine to calm her down last night, Amy reflected groggily that morning, and then remembered why she'd needed it. She'd been angrier than she could have ever imagined being towards Penny to begin with, at a complete loss to understand why she could have let her Sheldon go without a fight. If she'd known what he was up to, she'd have barricaded him in this apartment until he'd admitted what the real problems were, and forced him to face them.
Not long after she'd found out, the rest of the gang had convened at 4A for a crisis meeting, and Penny had eventually persuaded her and Bernadette (who was all for hunting Sheldon down herself and, to quote the small blonde, 'Rippin' em off!') to at least listen to her side of the story. Emily, being less sure of what was going on, had joined them in an effort to help mediate with Penny, and they left the guys to it, causing relief all round. The last thing they needed in this situation was a cohort of angry/bewildered women berating their friend, even if they agreed he shouldn't have done it like this.
'So, the only reason we let him go was to let him work it out for himself,' Penny explained, refilling Amy's glass and taking a large gulp of her own, as if she needed it. 'If we'd tried to stop him he wouldn't have learnt anything.'
Amy drank herself, and looked up to face her. 'OK,' she said after a while. 'But you can see why it hurts – you just got your man and mine takes off…why didn't he tell me?'
'I think…because if he'd told you what he was planning he wouldn't go through with it. And…' Penny continued, noticing Bernadette's and Amy's angry looks, '….he had to. Or he'd never work it out.'
'I still say I'd hunt down Howie's ass and cut 'em off,' muttered Bernadette, 'if he tried to pull that on me!'
'Yeah, OK, I get that,' Penny replied. 'But he has to miss you to work out he wants you. It's weird and makes no sense, but I had to miss Leonard last year to know I wanted him, and I think that's what's going on.'
'So what do I do?' Amy asked, quiet now. 'I don't want to lose him, but maybe I already have, or maybe I should?'
'I think the best thing is to focus on yourself right now,' said Emily. 'You know, Raj took me to this great day spa at the weekend – would you guys like to come sometime?'
'Uh yeah!' exclaimed Penny. 'That is just what this girl needs.'
'And get real busy at work,' added Bernadette. 'If he sees you getting on just fine, he'll miss what he had – and come crawling back…'
It all made sense. Somewhere along the line, Amy had realised, she'd lost herself, and in doing so, lost the girl Sheldon had noticed in the first place. It was time to get her back. She wasn't giving up without a fight, and her brilliant quirkiness would shine again. She believed he loved her, and knew her man well enough to know he'd be back, but it was time for her now. She would be the woman he fell in love with, and if that didn't work, well…at least she would know.
'Oh, and when Moonpie does come back,' Penny had said before the girls left, 'you make him work for it like he's never worked in his life!'
Yeah. That was what happened last night. Amy had a plan of action, and even though it hurt desperately, she resolved to carry it through. There was an interesting new project coming up on unconscious brain activity in REM sleep at UCLA, and she'd been looking forward to going back. Emily was keen to join their social group, and Amy decided to ask her to the BodyWorks exhibition of preserved cadavers on at the Natural History Museum, and she'd received a good report from her time at Caltech. It wasn't the same as having her boyfriend back, but if it was meant to be, he'd be back, and she'd tell him how things were going to be too. The last thing she was expecting was three knocks in quick succession on her door as she made her way to the kitchen, and stopped in shock.
'Amy?' It was him. What was happening now?
With some trepidation, she crossed the room and slowly opened the door.
'You're here? What...?' she managed, trying to stifle the automatic wave of concern as it struck that Sheldon didn't appear to have slept.
'I got as far as Anaheim,' he replied quietly, 'and thought Disney wouldn't be the same without you.'
'What? That's as far as you got?'
'Yeah.' The tall man looked embarrassed, guilty. 'I thought of the day you had there last year, and wanted to come back.'
'OK,' Amy replied, guardedly, yet inwardly processing the concept that Sheldon had thought of her Snow White costume, and it had brought him back. 'I guess you better come in.'
'Thank you.' He sounded contrite, and stood awkwardly in a corner of the room.
'Have you eaten? Slept?'
'Well, I've drunk too much, so need some tea. You want some?'
Sheldon nodded, still not looking at her. The last time he'd been in Amy's apartment, he'd behaved shamefully and he knew it. He'd sounded like his father – something he swore he'd never do, especially not with her. He wouldn't be surprised if she never wanted to see him again. Amy brought their tea over and asked him to sit down. They sipped in silence for a while, until Amy asked 'So what happened?'
'I thought leaving would help, and I thought if I told you, you'd stop me.'
'Correct, but I'm talking about what you said to me. Never speak to me like that again, Sheldon Lee Cooper.'
'I won't,' he said, and nervously met her gaze for the first time. 'I didn't mean any of it, but if you want me to go, I'll understand.'
'Go as in leave me?'
'I haven't been making you happy. I should have done, like you make me.'
Amy paused for a moment. 'That's not what I meant. I don't want to leave you, but unless things change, believe me when I say I will.'
Sheldon nodded. 'I know it's not enough, but I'm sorry. For everything. For not being everything you deserve for a while now.'
She paused again. Those pauses were breaking his heart, and he had no-one to blame but himself.
'Proposal,' Amy said after a while. 'This time, I will reset our relationship, back to just before Valentine's Day, and I suggest to you that you are my boyfriend on probation for a four month period, effective immediately. If after such time, it becomes apparent that it is no longer what one, or both, of us want, the termination protocols will be put in place as per the statutes in the Relationship Agreement.'
'Agreed.' Sheldon felt it was more than he deserved, and dreaded to think what his mother and Meemaw would say if they found out how he'd treated his girl. He'd let so many things cloud his thinking regarding Amy recently, and knew it the moment the train had pulled away, taking him from the very person he needed to be with instead. He had a chance – one chance – this summer, before he had to go back to work (but he'd come to that later) to win her back, and the challenge was on. He would not give his girl up without a fight – not now.
'As such,' Amy continued, 'there is to be no physical intimacy between us, as originally stated in the Agreement, until the probationary period is up, should it still be a consideration.' She took Penny's words to heart, and would not make it easy.
Sheldon took a quick intake of breath. That hurt. He'd been enjoying that new aspect of their relationship more than he'd cared to admit, but she had a point. What they had was still fragile, and pushing on either side now would probably break it. Silently, he agreed, and had actually been wondering if Amy had been truly ready anyway. He'd never understood why she hadn't kissed back. Maybe this summer would explain things. He hoped so.
'So,' she asked then. 'What do you plan on doing now?'
'Well…it struck me that you'd always given me good advice in the past…and that I needed your advice more than anything right now.' It was almost an admission – the admission – he wasn't ready for yet and doubted that she'd be ready to hear. He'd never needed anyone like he needed Amy. In spite of herself, Amy smiled. She sometimes thought she knew that man better than he knew himself.
'I try,' she replied. 'How do you propose deciding on a new field of study?'
Sheldon thought for a while. 'Would you come to the University library with me sometime? I could use some help with research, and I can't think of anyone better than you.'
'Sure,' Amy agreed. 'But not right now. I think we both need something to eat and a decent sleep. Leonard will be surprised to see you home.'
'I know. I'll probably come home to find the place covered in bridal magazines.'
'Quite possibly.' She got up with him and walked over to the door. For all that they hadn't been kissing for very long; it still felt strange suddenly not to, especially with all the emotion of the past 24 hours. They looked at each other, as self-conscious as teenagers, and the air felt thick and heavy as they struggled with the emotions they'd just agreed not to show for now.
'Will you call Leonard? He had a late night too. Everyone came round and tried to work out what to do, after you…took off.'
'They did?' Sheldon was surprised. He hadn't thought much about how the rest of their group would take it.
'Yes. I regret to say that it was quite emotional, and they had to deal with Raj who was apparently quite upset at the thought of us breaking up.'
Sheldon hid a smile. Really Rajesh…such a hippie…although it was quite nice to know that they were concerned. The task at hand now, was to make sure they had no reason to be.
'I see. Well, we ought to get some sleep,' he replied then, looking away.
'OK. I'll see you later.' It was very hard not to both hug him and get upset with him again at the same time, but now wasn't the time, in any case. They shared a somewhat awkward smile, and Sheldon left. Amy sank back down, relieved and yet resolved to continue her plan. It was the only way.g here ...