Amy handed Sheldon the steaming mug of tea she'd just made for him, and stood behind the kitchen island while he occupied one of the stools. "So, Christmas is coming up soon," she began.

"Ah yes, a joyous time for many, if you enjoy decorating giant fire hazards in your home, or expelling enormous amounts of energy to find 'just the right gift', when chances are your gesture will be unequally reciprocated."

Amy rolled her eyes and continued. "Well, I love Christmas. Being around loved ones, stringing popcorn, singing Christmas carols. It's magical. And it's heavily steeped in tradition, which should appeal to you."

"Amy, I'm just not one for celebrating holidays," Sheldon protested, taking a sip of his tea.

"The only thing you could talk about this past April was the fact that Star Wars Day was rapidly approaching! You keep a spreadsheet of possible Halloween costumes that you update regularly!" Amy spattered out, trying to keep her cool.

"Alright, I'm not one for celebrating Christmas."

She knew his usual Christmas protests, as she'd heard them every year. But she had her ammunition ready. "Sheldon, we didn't get to be together for Christmas last year because you were in Texas with your family. I want this year to be special. You won't have a screaming nephew to worry about this time, just your friends, and me. I think we should have a Christmas party, and I think it should be at your place."

"But the only reason I enjoyed the Christmas party last year is because I wasn't there!"

"We'll make it fun for you, I promise. Plus, since it will be here, you can control how late the party goes."

Sheldon looked intently at Amy. "Did Leonard put you up to this?"

Amy made a face. "What? Noooooo. What makes you say that?"

"He's been overly verbal about the upcoming holidays, saying things like it's his and Penny's first Christmas being engaged, and he wants it to be a memorable one, and how much fun Christmas parties can be, as though he were attempting to convince me."

"Oh, oh, well, isn't that a coincidence!" Amy said a little too stilted.


Her shoulders sank. "Fine, you're right. Leonard and Penny wanted to have a big Christmas party here, and figured you would be more likely to say yes to it if it came from me. But I really want it, too, and Rajesh has been about to explode with excitement at the idea of planning this party. Please say you're alright with it."

Sheldon looked at her pleading eyes, and he knew she had him. He wanted her to be happy, and to have the Christmas she really wanted.

"Fine, but everyone is out the door by 10:59 pm."

Amy's eyes shone with excitement. "Fair enough. Thank you, Sheldon. And hey, who knows? You may actually have fun. After all, you ended up enjoying our prom."

Sheldon looked away, blushing ever so slightly. What a night that had turned out to be! He had started out so confident about the evening, but one look at Amy and how beautiful she'd looked in that aqua dress, and he had gone into full-blown panic mode. It led to him finally admitting to her that he loved her, and after they both had calmed down, they'd gone to the roof and danced the night away, one slow dance after the other.

He had told no one about what he had said that night. It wasn't as though he was in denial about it. Sheldon loving Amy was undisputed fact, as concrete as the sun rising each day. He just didn't feel like it was anyone else's business. He and Amy hadn't even kissed in front of any of their friends except Leonard, and that was only because he arrived home at the exact moment they were concluding their date night with their traditional kiss.

Part of Amy had been bursting at the seams to tell her besties about the "I love you." But the last time she had shared one of her and Sheldon's intimate moments with Penny, it had led to Penny using it against Sheldon in an argument, and almost turned into a breakup. Plus, that moment when Sheldon had uttered those beautiful words had been so perfect, so intimate, that she just wanted to keep it to herself for a little while. It gave her more time to process it, since she still had moments where she almost couldn't believe it had actually happened. She would tell her friends when the time was right.

"So, did Raj tell you anything about the theme of this party?" Leonard asked Howard.

"No, and of course, he swore the girls to secrecy. I can usually get Bernadette to cave, but she was tight-lipped. But they've had all day up there to decorate and bake, so whatever it is, it should be good."

"I just hope Amy got them to use my ornament-spacing template for the tree," Sheldon chimed in.

The three guys trudged up the stairs after a long day of keeping themselves occupied while Raj and the girls got the party ready. There had been a stop at the rival comic book store, followed by a stop at the mall so they could complete their Christmas shopping.

"Will you relax?" said Leonard. "What, are you going to spend the whole evening measuring?"

"The thought had crossed my mind, if there isn't sufficient entertainment. I still can't believe you gave them free rein of our apartment and decorations without consulting me first!" Sheldon replied.

"Hmmm, let's see. Why would Leonard not consult Sheldon first? I mean, I just have no idea whatsoever," Howard remarked with a smirk.

They reached the fourth floor, and Leonard turned to face Sheldon directly. "Best behavior, Sheldon, ok? We've all been looking forward to this party, and you're not going to ruin it." And before he could get a reply, Penny's door opened and out walked Penny, Amy, Bernadette, and Emily.

"Hey, guys! Raj told us to wait over at my place until you showed up so we could all walk in together. He also told me to give you these," said Penny as she handed each guy a fairly small piece of paper.

"They are tickets! Are we going on a train?! Oh, goody!" Sheldon said excitedly.

"How are you not sick of trains after your cross-country trip?" Penny asked.

"Oh, I can't get sick of trains. I was glad to come home when I did, but I'm still a train enthusiast."

Penny broke out into a grin. "Good answer! Would you care to do the honors?" She pointed to the door, and Sheldon obliged.

Knock knock knock. "Raj?"

Knock knock knock. "Raj?"

Knock knock knock. "Raj?"

The door opened, and there stood Raj all decked out in a train conductor's uniform, trying to look serious but having trouble keeping his excitement under control. He cleared his throat. "Tickets, please."

Upon further observation, the guys could see a Christmas haven waiting for them inside.

"Welcome to the Polar Express, everyone!" Raj exclaimed. The girls giggled as the guys took the whole scene in. "I'm your conductor, and I will need your tickets, please." He held up a handheld hole puncher, and proceeded to punch one hole in each ticket.

"I'm not as fast at hole punching as the conductor in the movie. You'll get these back later."

"Great theme idea, Raj," Leonard commented.

He waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, it was nothing. The girls and I had been talking about it, and we all read The Polar Express growing up, and had seen the movie, and thought it would be something everyone could enjoy, even Sheldon. Actually, I think Amy was the first one to bring it up."

Sheldon gave Amy a quick smile. That's my girl.

"Go on, show them where everything is!" Emily urged Raj, kissing his cheek.

"Oh, right, right! Allow me to give you the tour. Over here, you will find your own robe to put on over your outfit. In the basket on the table are sleigh bells which are your party favors, and over at the kitchen island you will find a hot chocolate station with several extra toppings and syrups to add to your drink. There's also plenty of food as well, and we will end the night watching The Polar Express movie if no one objects. And Sheldon, you'll be pleased to hear that there are no ornaments of conflicting franchises sharing a tree branch."

Sheldon nodded his approval.

"And, one more thing, guys. There are two different kinds of egg nog. One is regular, and the other is Penny's Special Egg Nog!" Penny chimed in.

"As in spiked?" Leonard questioned.

She raised her cup in acknowledgment. "Merry Christmas to me!"

The playlist of Christmas standards and warm smells from the food were creating an intoxicatingly festive atmosphere. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits as they donned their robes, and helped themselves to plates full of goodies.

Amy walked up next to Sheldon. "So, you like it, then?"

"I honestly can't find anything to complain about. Thank you for your theme suggestion. It is perfect." Sheldon replied as he poured him a mug of hot chocolate.

"I'm happy to do what I can, Sheldon."

"Say, girls, how long did it take you to decorate the cookies so they looked like trains?" Howard asked.

Bernadette giggled. "Oh, well, we baked the cookies, but the decorating? That was all Raj."

Howard rolled his eyes. "I should have guessed."

Raj folded his arms. "Whatever, dude. It was fun."

Howard looked over at Emily. "Really, Emily, how do you keep your hands off of him?" he deadpanned.

"Actually, I find his quirkiness to be a bit of a turn-on," Emily replied.

"A match made in heaven."

As the gang finished eating, the gang naturally split into various groups scattered throughout the apartment. Raj and Emily hung near the Christmas tree in the back of the living room. Leonard, Sheldon and Howard were in the usual seats on the couch and chair dissecting the recent Hobbit movie, while the three girls were huddled together over by Sheldon's desk.

Sheldon couldn't help but occasionally glance in their direction to see what Amy was up to. Once he saw them moving closer and closer to his desk, though, his curiosity was piqued. "What are you hens clucking about over there?"

Penny spoke up. "We were just trying to guess who might be on your list of enemies. Would you mind showing it to us?"

Sheldon cocked his head slightly. "It seems an odd request during a holiday party, but eh, why not. And don't worry, Penny, I took your name off of there a long time ago." He stood and began to make his way over to the desk.

Penny gave him a fake smile. "Gee, thanks, Sheldon."

He returned the smile. "You're welcome."

"Still needs sarcasm lessons, I see," Bernie muttered under her breath.

He reached the desk and opened his laptop. "Alright, let's see here. I've now got it on a Word document, it will just take a sec—"

"Oh my gosh, you guys!" Penny interrupted dramatically. "What do we have here? Sheldon and Amy are under the mistletoe!" She said the last part loudly enough to get everyone's attention. A hush swept through the room faster than The Flash.

"Oooooh, now you both have to kiss!" Bernadette added excitedly.

Sheldon and Amy both looked up, and sure enough, a verdant sprig of mistletoe hung directly above their heads.

All the color drained from Sheldon's face as he mentally kicked himself for not being his usual observant self. He should have noticed it right away, and also noticed the ruse Penny and Bernadette had concocted.

He looked at Amy, who he could tell looked a little nervous, yet hopeful.

"Go on, Sheldon, plant a big, wet one on her!" Penny shouted, no doubt already affected by the egg nog.

"But this isn't Date Night!" Sheldon protested, glancing at Amy, desperate for some confirmation.

"No, but it is tradition, Sheldon." Amy remarked.

"Well, this tradition is malarkey. Honestly, kissing underneath a parasite? That's supposed to be romantic?"

"Sheldon, come on!" Amy whined.

All eyes remained on Sheldon, unconvinced by his protests. He felt clammy, feeling the pairs of eyes boring into him, watching, waiting to dissect his every move with Amy. He felt like he needed to protect her, protect them. He'd never had an audience like this with her, the center of attention, waiting for him to give into her desires. It was too much. He treasured his relationship with Amy and didn't want it paraded around on display for everyone to see and critique.

But he could also presume that Amy had no doubt been dreaming of being kissed under the mistletoe for years. Did he have the strength in him to give her this one thing? Maybe it was the other girls who had gotten them underneath the mistletoe, but he knew Amy wanted this, too. He thought back to what she said moments before. I'm happy to do what I can. Could he say the same? He figured he had to try, at least.

He hesitantly started to lean in and heard Amy exhale a jittery breath.

"Finally, we get to see evidence that he's not a robot!" Howard remarked, and Sheldon froze.

Raj joined in. "Hold on, Howard, I wouldn't give up on the robot theory if I were you. A robot could be programmed with the ability to kiss. Even Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation made out a time or two."

Amy glared at the boys, and they looked away sheepishly.

Sheldon's face was grim. "I don't have to listen to this," he said in just above a whisper, and turned to walk out the door.

"Wow, too far, guys," said Leonard.

They apologized to Amy but she remained angry. "I can't believe you two! He tries so hard sometimes, and nobody sees it. You know, if you can't recognize the wonderful man Sheldon has turned out to be, the wonderful man he always was, then maybe you should just stop being friends with him altogether!" She went out the door to follow Sheldon.

Bernie stared icily at Howard. "What a putz."

Amy found Sheldon sitting hunched over on the bottom step on the third floor. She sighed in relief. "I'm glad you didn't get very far." She sat down next to him.

"I was going to go for a walk, but I neglected to grab my jacket on the way out, so I just stopped here."

Amy nodded, and a minute or two of silence passed. "Do you want to talk about what happened up there?"

"I'm sorry, Amy. The pressure just became too much. I didn't want to hear whatever else those Neanderthals had to say."

"Well, don't worry about them. I set them straight."

"Thank you. But this whole mistletoe tradition is ridiculous. If we're going to kiss, I'd prefer not to have an audience!"

"May I ask why you are so against showing our relationship? Are you embarrassed of me?"

Sheldon went wide-eyed. "Not at all! Amy, how could you even consider that?" He sighed heavily. "Listen, before I met you, I never thought I'd ever be in a relationship. I didn't want one. I was so certain, so set in my ways, that I didn't think anything, or anyone, could change it. Now that I've finally succumbed to it, and am no longer the Homo Novus I thought I was, I feel like I'm eating crow all the time. Surely, you understand. When we first met, you didn't want a relationship either. We've both completely changed."

"True, and I can understand to some degree. I seem to recall once saying something to the effect of romantic love adding no value to human relationships. And look at me now! I'm a total softie." Amy said with a smile, reminded of just how far she had come in the last few years.

"Exactly, and the more of our relationship we put on display, the more I feel like we'd be a constant target for teasing, much like you felt that time we all played Dungeons and Dragons."

"But you tease Howard for not having a doctorate, Penny for not having any college degree, Leonard for his lactose intolerance, and basically everyone for not being as smart as you…."

"Alright, Amy, you made your point."

"So only you can dish it out, but they can't?"

Sheldon looked down. "I don't want them teasing the most important thing in my life," he said quietly.

Amy couldn't breathe. Oh, no, not another panic attack. Keep it together, Fowler!

"Listen, Sheldon, they are our friends. We all tease each other every now and then, but the bottom line is that they care about us. They are happy for us. I'm fine with some discretion in sharing our relationship, but let's not do it out of fear that we will be ridiculed. Remember, I'm in this with you."

Sheldon drew strength from her calming words. "You're right. I'm one of the greatest minds of the 21st century. I shouldn't be affected by petty remarks. I'm going to deal with this once and for all." He stood to his feet and offered his hand to help Amy up. "Are you coming, Dr. Fowler?"

She relished the warm feel of his hand as he helped her stand. "Absolutely, Dr. Cooper."

They opened the door to the apartment, and everyone became quiet again. Sheldon walked directly back over the where the mistletoe hung, and Amy followed suit, not quite sure what he was up to.

Sheldon cleared his throat. "Your attention, please. I would like to state for the record that I, Sheldon Lee Cooper, do, in fact, love Amy Farrah Fowler. She has helped me become a better person, and I can no longer imagine life without her in it. Yes, I've changed a lot. But Howard, you were a creepy, womanizing pervert before Bernadette entered your life. Raj, for the longest time you couldn't even talk to a woman without alcohol present in your system, and now you have had a steady girlfriend for months. Leonard, you awkwardly bumbled your way through most of your first interactions with Penny, but over time you developed a confidence I'd never seen in you before. Let's face it, gentlemen, our women have made us better, so I would appreciate it if the teasing were kept to a minimum. Now, if you'll excuse me, I still owe this little lady a kiss."

It was all Amy could do not to completely throw herself at him as he leaned in to kiss her. His hands found her hips, and her hands involuntarily reached up around his neck. She was on the verge of completely melting away from his kiss, but also from his heartfelt words. His voice had been so strong and sure when he had affirmed their relationship in front of the people they cared most about, yet his kiss was so tender and sweet. He pressed in a bit further, suddenly not caring in the slightest that they had an audience. All that mattered was kissing Amy.

When they parted, they saw six happy yet dumbfounded faces looking back at them. Penny looked like she was about to cry. "Sheldon, that was beautiful!" she squeaked, her voice cracking, and she walked over to hug him. How was this the same guy she'd met eight years ago? She suddenly remembered a time way before Amy when she asked the guys about Sheldon's deal. "Is it girls? Guys? Sock puppets?" The guys had said they assumed he had no deal, but now, as she looked at Shamy giving each other their famous eye coitus, the answer to her question was clearer than ever before. Amy was his deal.

"Wow, I guess he's got some game after all," Howard noted.

"Yeah, maybe you should take notes," said Bernie.

"Hey, I wrote a song for you!"

"Yeah, and when was the last time you did the dishes?"

"I-I-I wrote a song for you!"

She tried to stay angry, but couldn't help but give him a little smile when he pulled her to him and kissed her forehead. "I'll do them first thing when we get home," he whispered.

Leonard pulled Penny aside. "I never thought I'd say this, but I may have to relinquish my 'romance ninja' title to Sheldon."

Penny wrapped her arms around him. "Don't you dare! Sheldon's heart may have grown three sizes, but you're still my romance ninja!"

"Hi-yah!" Leonard gave a fake karate chop in agreement, and leaned in to kiss her.

The party returned to its normal status, and Sheldon and Amy made their way to their respective spots on the sofa, both still in a bit of a daze from their most passionate kiss to date.

"Well, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. How do you wish to proceed?" Sheldon asked her.

Amy smiled. "We keep going along at our pace, doing things our way, like we've always done. I think we might have gained some newfound respect today."

"I'd be inclined to agree."

"And thank you, Sheldon. What you said…that was the best Christmas gift I could have ever received."

"Well, I did get you an actual gift. Quite an excellent one, if I do say so myself. I was waiting until Christmas Day to give it to you. Although, if I've already given you the best gift, I suppose I could just return it."

"No, no!" Amy protested. "Don't take it back!"

Sheldon smiled. "Bazinga!"

Raj walked over at that moment. "Hey guys, listen, I'm really sorry about earlier. I was out of line, and it was uncalled for. You two, I mean, that was just beautiful! I wanted to give you your tickets back. I finished punching them, you know, like in the movie. I gave everyone a word on theirs. The funny thing is I did it earlier while everyone was eating, well before all this mistletoe stuff happened. It just…seemed to fit you both."

Sheldon and Amy each received their ticket and looked at them. Each ticket had the word "love" punched in it.

Amy could feel herself about to get choked up. "Wow, thank you, Rajesh."

"You're welcome," he replied, and walked back to the kitchen.

Penny bounced on the sofa next to Amy just then, and attempted to whisper in her ear, "So, Ames, it looks like you're evil plan worked after all!"

"Excuse me! Amy, what evil plan is she talking about?" Sheldon inquired.

Crap, Vulcan hearing strikes again, Amy thought.

"Shhh, Amy!" Penny giggled, her inebriation in full swing. "Whatever you do, don't tell Sheldon it was your idea to get you two under the mistletoe!"

Amy sighed, exasperated. "Sure, Penny."

Sheldon scooted over closer. "Amy, is this true? It was your idea all along?"

Penny suddenly realized her slip-up. "Oh, look at that! I need more egg nog!" She got up and walked away quickly.

Amy bit her bottom lip in an attempt to keep from smiling. "Are you mad?"

Sheldon thought he most certainly should be mad at all of the deception, and expected the anger to flare up. But it never came. He couldn't find it within himself. He'd enjoyed that kiss immensely, the evening immensely. The truth was he should've kissed without any prompting or deception. But that was the past, and he and Amy were on a new level now. He was going to do better this time.

A warm feeling was coming over him, encouraging him to give in to Christmas, and he felt pure contentment. Do I have Christmas spirit?

He shook his head and smiled. "Merry Christmas, you vixen."

"Merry Christmas, Sheldon. I love you."

"I love you, too."

Reviews are appreciated! Thanks for reading!