The Dirty Sock Reappearance

Sheldon ventured over to the nook near the big window in his apartment. It wasn't an area of the apartment that was frequently used, but he had a reason for using it today. He thought he had a book about neurobiology somewhere in these shelves, and he needed to find it to brush up on his knowledge before his next contact with Amy Farrah Fowler, not that he would admit to anyone that he didn't know everything about neurobiology already.

Two days ago, he had met Amy for the first time. Howard and Raj had brazenly signed Sheldon up for online dating, unbeknownst to him. He would never have gone to meet this girl, but Raj had blackmailed him by claiming to have hidden a dirty sock that had been found on the roof. Sheldon shuddered once more at the thought of those germs lurking inside of his sanitary home, if Raj was even telling the truth.

So, he begrudgingly let the guys drive him to the coffee shop where Amy was meeting him. He expected the whole thing to be over after five minutes, but once Amy introduced herself, something changed. After just a few moments, he could tell that she was on his level intellectually, and he found himself buying her a beverage. He immediately felt comfortable talking to her, a feeling that was rare even with his best friends, and he found it incredibly refreshing. How could he feel this calm with someone he had just met?

Minutes turned into hours. In fact, Howard and Raj got so bored that they left and came back once Sheldon was ready to leave. He exchanged contact information with her, thinking it was the polite thing to do, and they said their goodbyes.

Once the guys were in the car, Howard spoke first. "Sooo, I guess we won't get to see your look of haughty derision after all. What a pity," he said with a smirk.

"What did you think of her, Sheldon?" Raj asked eagerly.

"I suppose I found her to be an acceptable companion intellectually. We found many topics to talk about. However, if the two of you were expecting Amy and myself to end up in some sort of exchange of saliva, I assure you, you have the wrong people."

"Well, are you going to see her again?" Howard asked.

Sheldon gave a confused look. "Why would I see her again?"

Howard and Raj rolled their eyes at their friend's cluelessness. "Because you enjoyed talking with her?" Howard said.

"But I only came because you blackmailed me. I fulfilled the agreement. Therefore, there's nothing more to be done here."

"You got her phone number. Doesn't that mean something?"

Sheldon just shrugged.

Howard pulled the car over. "Ok, Sheldon, look. I'm gonna admit that when we first met Amy, I was a bit terrified because I thought we had found a Sheldon clone-"

"That's preposterous. Amy would have to look exactly like me to be a clone," Sheldon interrupted.

Howard ignored his comment. "However, as we watched you guys interact, we realized that she's kinda perfect for you. Whatever led you to meeting her, don't you owe it to yourself to see where this could go?"

"Yeah, in fact, you have to agree to see Amy Farrah Fowler at least one more time." Raj chimed in.

"I don't have to agree to anything!" Sheldon protested, turning to face Raj in the backseat.

Raj looked straight at Sheldon. "The dirty sock, dude."

That darn sock! It was turning his life upside down. "Curses," he muttered.

Howard and Raj exchanged gleeful glances. "We got him," Howard said smugly.

And now Sheldon was scouring his shelves looking for that neurobiology book. He knew he had it somewhere, and it had been last seen here in the nook, unless Leonard had tampered with his stuff. Wouldn't be the first time he violated the Roommate Agreement.

Aha! There it was, lodged between some other old textbooks, but something looked to be wedged between some of the books. As Sheldon began to feel around, his fingers came in contact with something soft, something that didn't feel like a book. He jumped back in horror, wondering what he was just exposed to. He ran to the bathroom to scrub his hands, and donned a pair of rubber gloves to investigate further.

He pulled out the section of books, and there it was. The dirty sock! Raj had been telling the truth after all! Not so cocky now, Koothrappali, Sheldon thought.

Sheldon was free! He was not bound to do anything those two loons wanted him to do anymore. He didn't have to see Amy ever again, and life could return to normal like nothing had ever happened.

He quickly grabbed a mask and some disinfecting spray and sprayed down all the books and the whole area. He picked up the sock with just two fingers, and quickly strode over to the trash can to dispose of it.

As he stood over the trash can, something stopped him. He thought back to his conversation with Amy. He remembered how he found himself involuntarily giving her a double take when they were at the counter to order. He remembered she had made him laugh that day, and how good that had felt to do. He remembered how comforted he was knowing she wasn't expecting some romantic gesture from him. She was honest, pragmatic, insightful, and not altogether unpleasant to look at.

People like that didn't come along in Sheldon's life every day, and he knew it. It took a while to get acclimated to Leonard and his inexplicable ways of doing things. It took a little longer to get used to Howard and Raj, and even longer to get used to Penny. What had taken months and years with his other friends had only taken an afternoon with Amy.

Would he throw that possibility away, because of a sock?

Six years later

"Sheldon, it looks like you're missing an issue of Thor here," Amy commented, leafing through a stack of comic books.

"What?" asked Sheldon, alarmed. "That can't be right!"

Amy looked closer. "Oh, never mind. You actually had a few of these out of order. Honestly, Sheldon, I'm surprised. It seems you're organizational skills need a bit improving," she teased, with a playful smile.

Sheldon sighed in relief, and gave her a smile back. He had learned to take her teasing in stride over the years.

It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, and Amy had agreed to come over and help Sheldon reorganize his comic books. After some prodding from Amy, who was tired of hearing him complain that he had run out of room for his comics, he had purchased a new set of shelves to store them in. The two of them had been sitting on Sheldon's bed for hours, with comic books sprawled all around them.

"Where did you say Leonard was today?" Amy asked.

"He went with Penny to pick out a wedding cake."

"It's nice that they're finally solidifying their wedding plans. After all, they've been engaged almost a year now," Amy said wistfully.

"Mmm hmmm," Sheldon replied, focused on the stack of Superman comics in his hands.

Amy sighed, and looked around at his bedroom. She had become much more familiar with the place as Sheldon became more comfortable with her coming in. They weren't engaging in coitus yet, but Amy couldn't complain. They had come so far over the years with their acts of physical affection that all Amy could feel was contentment about their relationship.

Her eyes wandered to a wall-hanging over on the wall furthest from the door. It was a blue argyle sock, mounted to a white mat, in a simple black frame. Once again, her curiosity was getting itchy. She had asked Sheldon many times what the meaning was with the framed sock, and he would become evasive and say something to change the subject, but always with a hint of a smile on his face.

She had even asked Leonard and Penny about it once, but they, too, had received no real answer from Sheldon.

She couldn't take it anymore. For years, she had seen that framed sock. She had to know what it was all about. "Ok, Sheldon, you have to tell me. What's the deal with the framed sock? No avoiding the question this time. I want a real answer. I'm simply too curious."

Sheldon looked up in surprise. "Why are you so desperate to know?"

Amy shrugged as she moved closer to his spot on the bed. "Scientific curiosity?" she offered. "I don't know, Sheldon, I've just never known anyone with a sock on their wall, and I want to know everything about you. Pleeeease?" she begged as she leaned over to give a gentle kiss on the lips.

Sheldon returned the kiss, and then smiled at her. "Ok, you might as well know."

Amy clapped her hands in delight as she awaited the answer.

He looked deep into her eyes. "Do you remember the day we met?"

She smiled. "Of course I do."

"Do you remember why I was there?"

Amy thought back, confused for a moment. She definitely didn't possess an eidetic memory like Sheldon did. "Can you help me out a bit?"

"I told you I was being blackmailed with a dirty sock."

Amy's eyes lit up with recognition. "Oh, right! Howard and Rajesh told you they planted the sock in your apartment somewhe—" She froze. "Wait, are you telling me that's the sock?!" she asked, pointing to the wall.

Sheldon nodded.

"I don't understand. What's it doing on your wall?" Amy looked confused.

Sheldon took her hand. "When Howard and Raj drove me home after meeting you, they told me that I had to see you at least once more, and they used the sock to blackmail me once again. I never told anyone this, but two days later, I found where they hid it. I realized that I was free from their trickery and could make my own decision about you. Although I hate to admit it, I was tempted to just forget we ever met, but there was something about you, Amy, that made me curious enough to contact you anyway, even without the sock."

Amy's eyes became teary. "That means so much, Sheldon. But I still don't understand why you kept the sock. You're the biggest germaphobe I know."

"I certainly wasn't going to keep it at first. In fact, I had it in my gloved hands ready to throw it in the trash, but for some reason, I stopped. I couldn't get rid of it so easily. I didn't know what was going to happen between us, but I knew meeting you was significant. And the sock was the catalyst that brought me to that significant moment. I knew I had to keep it."

Amy grinned.

"And it wasn't easy, little lady! I ran it down immediately to the laundry room, and it took five washes before I felt it was clean enough. Even then, I still used gloves when putting the sock in the frame weeks later."

Amy just laughed and shook her head. "I just can't believe you would do something like that. It's amazing. You put your phobias aside because of me."

"And I would do it again. Honestly, Amy, I wonder sometimes what would've happened if I had decided not to contact you after all," he said as he stood up and walked over to his dresser. He appeared to be looking for something.

"You would be who you were before we met. And I would still be dating once a year to keep my mom happy. But I think one of us would have contacted the other eventually."

"Perhaps," Sheldon said as he continued to dig. "I do know that I wouldn't be nearly as happy as I am with you."

"You make me happy too, Sheldon, more than I can say."

He turned around, looking mischievous. "I was planning to wait until our next date night to do this, but this day has been perfect. I have you, and my comic books, and it's just us here."

He began to kneel down in front of her, and she gasped in shock as she saw the ring he was holding. Was this really happening?!

"Amy, I love you. I'm so glad I went to the coffee shop that day, and so glad that I called you after that. It changed my life. You changed my life. It's become better than I ever imagined. Will you marry me?"

Tears rolled down Amy's face as she stared at the man she had loved for so long. "Yes, of course, Sheldon!"

He gently placed the ring on her finger and leaned in to kiss her. She wrapped her arms around him, grateful for how far they had come.

And she knew then and there, that wherever they lived down the road, that framed sock would always be hanging somewhere. She didn't think she could ever get tired of looking at it now.