The door closed on the last of the party guests, leaving only Leonard, Penny, Amy, and Sheldon in the apartment. Overall, the evening had been a rousing success, much to everyone's surprise. While Sheldon had agreed they could throw him a birthday party, they knew it wasn't without risk, but after his brief panic attack, he had relaxed and the whole group ended up having a wonderful time.

After they cleaned the apartment (while birthday boy Sheldon sat in his spot and supervised), Penny spoke up. "That should do it. Sheldon, does this meet your grand standards of cleanliness?"

Sheldon took a moment to inspect. "Yes, I believe so. Thank you. You should know, however, that I will be doing a more thorough inspection tomorrow, so be prepared for a report."

"Gee, I can't wait. Meanwhile, Leonard and I are going to sleep next door tonight, so, um, you and Amy, you know…." she trailed off, smirking.

"I know what?" Sheldon asked.

"You know. We're creating the freedom for…opportunity."

Amy blushed, but Sheldon merely stared at Penny with a confused expression.

Penny groaned. "Whatever. Happy birthday, Sheldon," she said, throwing her arms around him one more time.

"Happy birthday, buddy," Leonard chimed in, patting Sheldon on the back.

Penny took Leonard's hand as they headed out the door. "Goodnight, you lovebirds!" she called out, closing the door behind them.

Amy sat down at her usual spot next to Sheldon's, and he followed suit. "So, be honest, what did you really think of your party?"

"It was the best birthday I ever had."

"Really?" she squeaked. This was more than she could have hoped to hear!

"Yes. Batman came to my party, although not my first choice of Batman. Stephen Hawking wished me a happy birthday. Plus, you all gushed over me for quite some time. Oh and when Stuart tried to ask Leslie out, and she poured her soda on his head! That was so entertaining!" He laughed at the memory.

Amy grinned. "I'm so glad you liked it. I was worried a bit when we first arrived."

"Ah, that. I just had to process everything and then I was fine. This party more than makes up for all those bad birthdays when I was a kid so I don't expect I will panic like that next year."

"Next year?"

"Oh yes, I fully expect you to repeat this every year now that we've established that I like my birthday being celebrated. But this party is going to be hard to top, kid. At least you have a whole year to plan this time!"

Amy had a fake smile on while she nodded. What have I gotten myself into? However, she did love making a big deal out of her boyfriend, so surely it wouldn't be that bad.

"I do, however, have a question about tonight."

"Ok, shoot," Amy said.

Sheldon looked right in her eyes. "Why didn't I get a hug from you, Amy?"

Amy was taken aback. "What?"

Sighing, Sheldon replied, "Well, it's just that Penny insists on giving me these ridiculous hugs of hers, but if I was going to get any hugs tonight, they should have come from my girlfriend rather than my pseudo-sister."

Amy was speechless. Sometimes she had to remind herself that she wasn't dating the Sheldon from a few years ago, that he had changed, maybe even more than she had. It was still a surprise to hear something like that from him, though.

"I don't know, exactly. I think it's partly that old habits die hard. For so long, I had to be so careful of the amount of affection I could show you. There were many times I wanted to kiss you senseless, but thought if I did anything like that, you would run away from me. Of course, you did run away from me anyway even without that, but that's neither here nor there right now. All that to say, I guess I thought you might be embarrassed if I gave you affection in front of all your friends tonight, or worst-case scenario, that you would push me away."

Sheldon winced at her words, knowing not too long ago, he might have done just that. But that was a Sheldon who hadn't been utterly heartbroken, who had taken Amy for granted and thought she would always be there. He knew better now. He knew she was meant to be treasured.

"You don't have to be worried about that anymore. I'm sorry I ever made you feel that way. Amy, I am proud to have you stand beside me. I realize that in the past I haven't always been generous with or accepting of affection in front of others, but it's getting easier for me. You're the reason for that. And tonight, I really wanted a hug from you."

Amy smiled and opened her arms. "Then a hug you shall have."

Sheldon snaked his arms under hers and wrapped them around her waist, pulling her to him as close as possible, his chin resting on the top of her head. He couldn't help but sigh as this was the most relaxed he had felt all night. He probably should have just held onto Amy when he'd gotten his panic attack. He would most likely have recovered much quicker.

With their arms still wrapped around each other, Sheldon leaned back in his spot to get more comfortable, allowing her to lean on him and lay her head on his chest.

After a few minutes of content silence, Amy felt she couldn't close the subject quite yet. "This is so nice. You know, I did feel a little jealous when Penny hugged you."

Sheldon looked down to see her green eyes staring up at him. "Why on earth would you be jealous of that?! Your hugs are far superior to hers!"

"It's more that she was bold enough to do it, without regard for who was around you. She comforted you in the bathroom, too. I love that you two are close, but I think with her personality she's able to get away with more."

"That's because she doesn't take my feelings into account the way you do. Penny is my friend, but that doesn't mean I easily tolerate all she does, whereas you are the most important woman in my life, bar none. There isn't even a comparison here."

Amy snuggled even deeper into his arms. "You're right. I realize how ridiculous I must sound. I'm sorry. And I will work on getting rid of those old thought processes, too, because I'm not afraid anymore. We're not the same people we were before the break-up. We've both changed, and I'm very secure in our relationship."

"As am I, Amy."

"Good. So, I take it this hug is to your satisfaction?"

"Almost. It needs one more thing," he said, much to Amy's surprise. He then leaned in to capture her lips with his, finding a rhythm together with sweet tenderness. Their senses came alive as their lips danced together for what become several minutes, hands moving, hearts racing.

When they finally pulled apart, Amy could almost feel the clock bearing down on her. She knew it was getting late, and she hated the idea of leaving, but she wanted to start the process before he said anything. "Well, birthday boy, I should probably get going. I'm sure all this partying has worn you out." She stood to go grab her things.

"Amy?"

She eagerly whipped around. "Yes?" Her heart was in her throat. Ask me to stay tonight.

"There's something else about tonight that won't quit nagging me. Why was there so much confusion over my suit earlier?"

Confusion? Oh. She smiles and shakes her head at her sweet, innocent baboo. "The birthday suit comment?"

"Yes."

"Sheldon, 'birthday suit' is an expression that means being naked."

"Oh, I see…OH!" His eyes widened.

"It's alright, Sheldon. I was partly teasing you, anyway. I can go home."

"No, wait. I…think we could arrange that. I mean, we were intimate on your birthday. I suppose it makes sense that we be intimate on mine." He'd be lying if he said he hadn't been thinking about the idea of coitus again, but wasn't sure if or when to proceed.

Amy sighed. "This is not some playing field we need to even out, Sheldon. And intimacy doesn't just have to happen on a birthday or special occasion. I agreed with you that night we could wait until my next birthday, and that still stands. I'm not going to push you. But if we were going to be intimate tonight, it would have to be because you genuinely want it. Otherwise, I am going home."

Sheldon grabbed her hand to stop her. "Perhaps I misspoke. Honestly, I would enjoy being with you tonight. I just didn't know how to ask." His words brought to mind another question he'd been having trouble finding the right moment to ask, especially after the whole fiasco with Meemaw.

She looked intensely into his blue eyes, and tenderly said, "You just ask, Sheldon. My answer will be yes."

He gulped, wondering if that was a hint at that other question. It was coming soon, very soon. That much he knew. With every passing day he became more certain that he was ready for that next step.

But he still had reality facing him here and now. Shaking off his thoughts, he asked, "Amy, will you spend the night with me?"

"Yes, Sheldon," she answered, trying not to explode with excitement.

"Looks like you'll see me in my birthday suit after all," Sheldon smirked.

Amy kissed his cheek. "It looks that way."

They began walking towards Sheldon's bedroom, when he suddenly fingered her hair. "I like your curls, by the way. They make me think of coils."

Amy couldn't help grin at her forever scientist of a man, thinking that could work to her advantage. It was time to pull some knowledge out of her science arsenal to set the mood. "You know, there was a recent study done with coils…."


A/N: Thank you so much for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts about the story, so please leave a review! :)