Penny moved through the crowd slowly, her mind filled with regrets, her heart filled with pain. Ever since Amy had called her earlier she had felt as if her world was slowly collapsing.
A sweet, tender Valentine's kiss aboard a romantic train ride. It sounded perfect for Amy and Sheldon. And it was like a knockout punch to her heart. She gasped softly as her chest tightened even more. She felt like throwing up. How could she have been so stupid? Why hadn't she followed her heart from the very beginning?
Maybe she had been right way back then, and she never had a chance with Sheldon. But she had made a huge mistake settling for Leonard. As friends, they were good together. But as a couple? She was slowly drowning her pain in alcohol, trying to mask her desperation by pretending this boring, insipid relationship was all she needed.
Her life was a living hell, and she had built it with her own two hands.
"Would you like to have your fortune read?"
Penny glanced at the wizened old woman in the shop doorway. She shook her head and took another step.
"Then maybe you would like to talk about your past," the woman said gently.
Penny paused and looked at her again. "What?"
She smiled, making her wrinkled cheeks seem even more creased. "Come, dearie. My name is Solange and I have tea and biscuits. Let us clear your mind."
Penny allowed the woman to draw her into the shop. Solange locked the door before leading Penny further into the shop. She gestured to a small stool and moved to a side table to prepare the tea.
"So, tell me your troubles, dearie. Why do you look so forlorn?"
Penny twisted her hands together. "I guess I'm just feeling low. It's nothing."
Solange carried a tray over and set it on the table beside Penny. She sat on the other stool and watched Penny silently.
Penny picked up her tea cup and sipped it. A sharp pain ricocheted through her. "Peppermint. His favorite," she said, her voice husky with fresh tears. She looked at Solange's knowing eyes and those tears cut a path down her cheeks.
It was as if a dam suddenly burst and she could no longer hold back the emotions she had bottled up and buried so long ago. Slowly the words began to tumble out of her mouth, disjointed at first, but gradually forming coherent sentences.
She didn't know how long she talked, but the tea had grown stone cold and her bottom was numb from sitting long before the words stopped coming.
When dawn began to tinge the skies with pinks and purples she hugged the elderly woman close and thanked her for listening.
Solange patted Penny's cheeks and smiled softly. She placed a small crystal in her hand and closed Penny's fingers over it. "I wish you sweet dreams, dearie. Remember, life occasionally gives us second chances. Especially when we least expect it, and never how we imagine it."
Penny hailed a taxi and headed home. She slipped quietly up to the fourth floor and into her apartment. She stripped off her clothes and collapsed onto the bed. She held the crystal up to the light and stared at the small yellow flaw in the center. She slipped it under her pillow and closed her eyes. Soon she was fast asleep.
Penny opened her eyes, and wondered if there was any real reason for her to get up. She rolled over onto her back and looked up at the ceiling. Her eyes traced the spider webbing cracks without thought. She had no desire to go to work, or even get dressed. She just wanted to lay on the bed and pretend that…
Penny paused her train of thought and stared at the ceiling. Something was off. She nibbled on her bottom lip as she tried to reason out why she felt so strange. Something was wrong, and it was right on the tip of her tongue. She sat up and looked at the ceiling harder. She felt like she was really close to figuring out what was wrong when the bedroom door opened.
"Thought you were going to your sisters, babe. Glad you changed your mind, cause I am horny as hell!"
Penny's eyes widened with shock. "Kurt?"
Penny stared at the newspaper in her hands with shock. How was this even possible? Seven years of her life had just up and disappeared. She slumped on the park bench and struggled to keep calm. She had to think. She had to figure out what had happened and how to fix it.
Maybe the guys could help her! After all, they were geniuses! They… they… Penny sucked in a harsh breath. They wouldn't know who the hell she was, she realized. She hadn't met them yet. In fact, she wouldn't meet them for another two months.
She could just imagine Sheldon's reaction if she showed up at his office. "Hey, Moon Pie. You don't know me, but I've been sucked into the past, somehow, and I need you to fix it." Yeah, she'd be locked up faster than his beloved Flash could run a mile.
Penny sighed and stood up. Well, the only thing she could do was go back to Kurt's apartment and relive the past. At least, until she found a way to jump back into the future. She wasn't looking forward to it. She froze as she reached her car. Her eyes widened as an idea suddenly popped into her head. Or was it her only option?
Sheldon sighed with annoyance as he turned from his white board. He had no appointments today and he had no time for undergrads looking for a referral. "I am busy. Cease knocking on my door immediately!" he said as he opened his office door.
His eyes widened as he looked at the beautiful blonde smiling at him. She was not one of the labradoodles from his lectures. Nor was she a colleague. He had an eidetic memory, but even without it, there was no way he would have overlooked her. "Are you lost?" he asked with confusion.
She shook her head. "No, sweetie." His pulse sped up slightly at the endearment. "I'm here to see you."
He swallowed hard. "May I ask why?" She looked so worried and hopeful that he felt the impulsive urge to promise to fix whatever was wrong.
She bit her lower lip lightly. "Because you're the only man I trust."
Thank you to devilbk for beta'ing this one for me. I can't remember who suggested it (I really hope you are reading this, whoever you are!) but the idea took off in my head pretty easily. Then I got stuck. Then I got unstuck and then real life intruded and slowed me down. Real life sucks. Hard. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this little fic.