Once again, I'm starting at the beginning and rewriting the entire history of TBBT. Quick word of warning, this is a fluffy, sugary story. No angst (maybe a few moments of uncertainty) so don't panic Darkly, when you see an update. I'm not out to break your Shenny heart. Honest.
Sheldon sat down at their usual table and nodded to his friends. It was still a bit strange to actually have friends, even after two years. When Leonard had moved into 4B he had been hesitant to get to know his new neighbor. However, after discovering that they patronized the same comic shop and grocery, he had allowed a tentative friendship to build.
Within months, Leonard had introduced Wolowitz and Koothrappali to him. He had found them to be amusing, if slightly single-minded, company. They enjoyed sci-fi and comics as much as he did, but too much of their time was spent chasing after sexual congress. He was certain that if they spent more time focused on science instead of sex, they would be happier. He rarely concerned himself with women or relationships. In fact, he hadn't bothered dating since his Meemaw had convinced his mom to focus on Missy as the bearer of grandchildren, and not him.
He opened his bottle of water and reached for his napkins. "Did any of you know that the ancient Greeks used a bread known as apomagdalia to wipe their hands?"
The guys rolled their eyes and turned their attention to their latest debate. Raj leaned forward slightly. "I'm telling you, dudes, no way that Lex Luthor is a better villain than Brainiac. Brainiac kidnapped Superman's entire race!"
Leonard shook his head. "Metallo is Superman's greatest nemesis. Everyone knows that. He's got kryptonite right inside his body."
Sheldon looked pained as he jumped into the conversation. "Lex Luthor is the de facto leader of every super villain group of any consequence in the DC universe. He is obscenely wealthy, diabolically cunning, ruthless, and even managed to get himself elected president. Luthor is the greatest arch nemesis Superman has ever had."
Howard shook his head firmly. "You are all wrong. Superman's greatest enemy is…" Howard's voice trailed off and the others looked ay him curiously. His eyes were wide and a smile slowly spread across his face. "Penny!" he whispered.
Leonard frowned questioningly. "Who?"
Howard jumped up from the table and wiped his hands down his legs. The other three looked over as a beautiful blonde weaved her way through the tables. She smiled brightly as she got nearer. She rushed forward the last two feet and swept Howard up into a tight hug, his feet dangling a couple of inches off the ground.
Leonard stood and smoothed his hair as best he could. Raj stared open mouthed. Sheldon studied the newcomer curiously. Relative? No genetic similarities. Girlfriend? No, Howard would have spent every waking moment bragging. Friend? She did seem to be fond of him, and Howard was looking very happy as they separated to look at each other.
"Why didn't you call and tell me you were coming?" Howard asked cheerily.
The blonde grinned. "No way, Chuckles. I wanted to see the surprise on your face."
Howard laughed and picked up his tray. "Well, you certainly did that. Come on, I'll get rid of this and we can go somewhere quiet and talk."
The blonde nodded and slipped her arm through one of his. "Sounds great. Lead on, handsome." Sheldon, Leonard and Raj watched as Howard and the mystery woman walked away without another word.
Barry Kripke walked over, watching the couple exit the cafeteria. "Who was that bwutiful cweature?"
Leonard swallowed the lump in his throat. "I don't know, but she's stunning."
Raj turned to Leonard and Barry quickly. "I saw her first!"
Sheldon snorted. "Actually, it would appear that Howard saw her first."
He tuned out the three men as they began discussing who the woman could possibly be. He began eating his meal, certain he had seen her somewhere before, but unable (despite his eidetic memory) to remember where, or under what circumstances. He shrugged mentally. He was sure he would remember soon enough. It must not be important if it didn't come immediately to mind.
Howard watched her look around his lab curiously before perching on a table. He smiled as he looked her over carefully. "So, what brings you back to sunny Pasadena?"
Penny drew in a deep breath and looked him in the eye. "I was wondering if you could put me up for a few nights. Just until I find a place of my own."
He nodded and sat down in the rolling chair in front of her. "Of course I can. You know you're always welcome with me and Ma. But that doesn't tell me why you're here."
She gave him a wry look. "As you know, I just got through with a nasty divorce," she said. "Kurt is being an ass about everything. He cheated, got some stripper pregnant, and he tried demanding half of everything, including my prospective salary. Luckily the judge upheld the prenup." She wrapped her arms around her middle. "I just need to get out of New York."
Howard stood back up and wrapped his arms around her tight. "What can I do?" he asked softly.
Penny smiled and buried her face in his neck. "Keep me sane?" she teased.
Howard laughed out loud. "You've never been sane, Pen." Just then Penny's stomach growled and she pulled away with a wry look. Howard shook his head and stepped back to let her hop off the table. "How about I keep you fed, instead? Come on, there's a pretty good restaurant across the street from the main building."
She nodded enthusiastically. "Excellent. I'm a bit peckish."
He shook his head with amusement. "When aren't you peckish?"
Penny stuck out her tongue and led the way out of the lab and down the corridor. "What can I say? I have a high metabolism!"
Howard linked their hands and rolled his eyes. Neither of them noticed the trio watching them from the other end of the corridor.
Penny was in the kitchen washing dishes with Mrs. Wolowitz when the doorbell rang. Howard had actually expected them sooner. Maybe the fact that Sheldon was with them was why they took so long to descend on his house. Sheldon would have no interest in Penny, and convincing him to visit Howard would have held them up. He opened the door with an innocent expression.
"Hey guys! What brings you to Casa de Wolowitz?"
Leonard tried not to be too obvious as he looked over Howard's shoulder. "Well, you kind of disappeared at lunch and we just wanted to make sure you were okay, buddy."
Raj nodded quickly. "Especially since your scooter is still at Cal-tech."
Howard leaned against the doorjamb. "Oh, well I got a ride with a friend. But thanks for your concern. So, I'll see you guys tomorrow, okay?" he said cheerfully.
Leonard gave Howard his most innocent smile. "So, how's your mom?"
Howard rolled his eyes. "Leonard, what's my mom's name?"
"Umm…Mrs. Wolowitz?" he said tentatively.
Howard straightened up and crossed his arms. "You are not here to check on me or ask about my mom. You're here to meet Penny."
"Not me," Sheldon grumbled. "I was told we were going to the train store."
Howard looked at Raj inquiringly and his friend shrugged. "Sheldon was threatening to give us strikes for disrupting his routine, so we told him we'd take him to the train store," Raj admitted.
"There's a train store?" Penny asked, coming up behind Howard.
Sheldon nodded. "Actually there are two. One at the mall on Del Mar Boulevard, and one Summit Avenue."
Penny grabbed a set of keys off the table by the door. She stepped out onto the porch and slipped her arm through Sheldon's, making him jump and twitch. "Awesome. Let's go, Daddy Long Legs. I have a nephew with a birthday in two weeks. He loves trains. I'll be his favorite aunt, EVER!"
Sheldon squeaked as she tugged him off the porch and over to a black 1967 Pontiac GTO. Before Leonard, or Raj could say anything, she was pulling out of the driveway, a stunned Sheldon in the passenger seat.
Howard just shook his head and laughed. "Guys, meet Penny."