This one started out as a possible Woo story. The idea comes from SunnyCitrus10. Unfortunately, Shenny battled me over the length and, as you can see, won handily. Instead of a 500-1,000 word short, I have a one shot that took on a life of it's own. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this one, and I hope you find as much enjoyment from reading it.

Penny wasn't sure she was going to survive the night. She watched without actually listening as Sheldon argued with the motel clerk. She watched the vein in his neck thump alarmingly fast. Why did he do this? The clerk had told them there was only one room left. She had explained to them that there was a poker run going on tomorrow and the entire town was booked solid. The only reason they were even getting this room was because one of the bikers had wiped out on the way into town and was in the hospital with a broken hip. So what good did it do to argue and get the clerk all pissed off?

Finally Penny stepped forward, placing a hand on Sheldon's arm. "Please excuse my friend. He's had a rough week. His girlfriend got married to her Saudi Arabian fiancé and his roommate ran off with his assistant. Our car blew a tire four miles outside of town and we had to walk here, as you can see," Penny said waving a hand over her completely soaked clothes. "Thank you for the room. We'll get out of your hair now."

The clerk smiled with relief and handed Penny the key on a small chain. Penny gripped Sheldon's arm tighter as he started to speak again, and pulled him from the office quickly. She released him as soon as they were back outside and ran to the left looking for their room. She left it up to Sheldon whether he followed or not. She had had a shitty week and him acting like a child was not helping.

Their room was the last door on the ground floor. She shoved the key into the lock and flung it open. She paid no attention to the actual room, moving swiftly to the bathroom. The rain outside pounded against the large window, drowning out the sound of Sheldon tapping on the door three times and muttering to himself about high-handed females with large man hands.

She closed her eyes tight and leaned back against the closed bathroom door and counted to thirty. She was tired, hurt and mad. She wasn't even sure if the moisture on her face was rain or tears anymore.

On Monday she had woken up to a note on the other pillow. She had smiled thinking it was a love letter from Leonard. After all, he had been beside her when she fell asleep. Things had been weird between them for a few weeks, ever since he returned from his Hawking trip, but she was sure they were just in a slump. Okay, so it wasn't a grand passionate relationship, but Bernadette and Amy assured her real love wasn't like the movies.

Imagine her surprise when she unfolded the letter to find a confession of infidelity from Leonard. Seems he had been sleeping with Alex for months and now she was demanding he man up and break it off with Penny. Leonard wrote that while he did love her, Alex had more to offer. She had quickly called him, only to find his number no longer worked and he had left 4A without telling anyone what was going on. He had left Sheldon a note saying he would send for his things, but that he was moving in with Alex. Almost immediately Bernadette and Amy had tried to comfort her, but she just wanted to be alone, so she barred the door, cracked open a bottle of wine and ignored the world.

Then, four days later Amy called. She ignored the first six calls, but answered the seventh since Amy didn't seem to be giving up anytime soon. She got a second shock as Amy hurried to explain what was going on. Her fiancé had shown up, unexpectedly, insisting she honor her commitment to him. She could either break it off and lose her funding or marry him immediately and have unlimited funds. She wanted Penny to check up on Sheldon since she was currently seated on a private jet on her way to Saudi Arabia.

Penny had angrily hung up, cursing Amy, and flew across the hall. She found Sheldon on his bed, curled up in the fetal position. Too many changes in too short a time had left him almost comatose. Penny had snuggled up to his back, singing Soft Kitty for hours until he could talk to her. His only words were "Will you take me home?"

Penny knew immediately he meant Texas. He needed his Meemaw. It took her 20 minutes to pack an overnight bag for herself, and grab his emergency bag from the closet. She had thrown on a jacket before grabbing her purse, keys and the money stashed in Green Lantern's butt. Ten minutes later they were on the road. She drove for 9 hours before the tire blew out. It was raining lightly, so they decided to walk into the nearest town, Lordsburg, New Mexico. Ten minutes later the light rain turned into a heavy downpour. It took them almost 40 minutes to walk into town and find a motel.

Penny sighed heavily and straightened up. She stripped off her wet clothes and stepped into the tiny shower. She needed a hot shower and a few minutes of peace.

Sheldon listened to the shower come on and sighed. He knew Penny was upset, but so was he! His first ever girlfriend, the woman he had thought he might eventually have children with (albeit by insemination, not coitus) had abandoned him 96 hours after his former best friend had done the same. Not only that, they had hurt his real best friend. Penny was important to him and after Leonard's betrayal she had secluded herself.

For the first day he had been angry. He felt like he had been abandoned by the one person he depended on most. Leonard was gone, as well. When sleep eluded him, he began thinking about Penny and looking at it from her point of view. As angry as he was, she was probably devastated. He watched Amy and Bernadette try to gain access to Penny's apartment, only to be ignored. Each night, after everyone had left, he would sit in the hall, his back to her door, wishing he knew how to make things better.

Then Amy dropped by his office unexpectedly. A short, plump, dark-skinned man was with her. Amy had looked nervous and a bit embarrassed. He had listened stoically as she explained she was leaving the country to marry her fiancé. He had quietly wished them well and left his office. He took the bus home, despite his lack of bus pants and made it as far as his bedroom. An hour later Penny had appeared, like a beautiful guardian angel, offering him comfort.

His desire to throw himself into Meemaw's arms had landed them here, in this motel. He stood in the doorway, unwilling to drip all over the carpet. It looked clean enough, if a bit dated. A flat screen TV on a long dresser, two arm chairs of indeterminate age, and a large queen size bed were the sum total of furnishings.

He stared at the bed with mixed emotions. Only one bed, and two of them. He was fairly certain Penny would refuse to sleep on the floor. There was absolutely no way he could do so. That left one bed and two bodies. Sheldon swallowed hard. How was he to sleep in the same bed with Penny without her discovering he desired her? More importantly, what if she did find out and rejected him?

Penny dried off and wrapped the surprisingly large, fluffy towel around her securely. It was almost beach blanket sized, covering more of her than some of her dresses. She moved back into the main room and looked at Sheldon who was standing in the doorway staring at the bed in horror. Penny rolled her eyes and sat down on one of the armchairs. She didn't want to know about the germs and body fluids he was imaging on the mattress. She just wanted to go to sleep and forget everything for a few hours.

"Sheldon?" He looked at her for a heartbeat before clapping a hand over his eyes. She almost giggled, but held it in. "Go shower. There's a towel in there for you, too. If you don't get out of those wet clothes you'll get sick. I don't have any vapor rub to put on you this time."

She was surprised when Sheldon blushed bright red and quickly ran for the bathroom. What was that about? Penny stood and closed the door, muffling the storm a bit. She pulled the blanket off the bed and folded it over a few times, making a small pallet of sorts. She looked at the bed longingly for a moment before grabbing the firmer of the two pillows. If she was sleeping on the floor, she was getting the good pillow!

She laid down, closed her eyes and tried to get comfortable. Hopefully she would be asleep before Sheldon came out to complain she had "stolen" the blanket.

Sheldon hung his clothes over the towel rod before picking Penny's off the floor and smoothing them over the sink counter. He ignored his semi-erect state and stepped into the shower stall. He needed to rid his mind of the fantasies he had formed while staring at the one and only bed in the room. He relished the hot water, letting it warm his chilly skin.

When he was feeling more like himself he stepped out and dried off. His clothing was still dripping, so he wrapped the towel around him. It was large enough to wrap around his waist twice and reach down to his shins. He took several deep breaths to calm himself before opening the door. He frowned when he didn't see Penny in the room. The blanket was also missing. Where could she have gone?

He walked toward the window, almost tripping over Penny in the process. She slapped at his legs and sat up.

"Geez, Sheldon! Watch where you're walking! You almost stepped on my head!"

"Penny, why are you on the floor?"

She rolled her eyes and sat up. "Because I didn't want to go through a 30 minute argument about how you don't share a bed only to end up on the floor anyway. This way, I cut out the debate."

Sheldon twitched a bit before his shoulders slumped. "Thank you," he said softly before turning out the light and climbing into the bed. Rejected before he ever made her aware of how he felt. Both of them lay in the dark for a long time, not knowing their minds were occupied with the same thoughts.

Penny shivered and jolted awake. She looked at her watch with blurry eyes and groaned. She was cold as ice and it was only 1:45 am. She looked up at the bed and bit her lip. Did she dare? Sheldon would be furious, of course, but dammit, she was freezing!

Penny quietly got up and slowly slipped into the bed. She threw the blanket over them both and closed her eyes. Hopefully she would be awake and out of the bed before he woke up.

He could smell her shampoo even in his sleep. It was sweet, yet tart all at once, like Penny. He smiled and pulled the scent closer to him. Surprisingly, the scent had a temperature. A warm, pleasing temperature that made his body tingle. The warmth wrapped itself around him and he felt his body respond.

Nothing unusual about that. Every time he dreamed of Penny his body grew hard and needy. He nuzzled the dream in his arms and it nuzzled him back. He groaned as he grew warmer. His erection pushed at the dream and the dream accepted it. So warm and wet and tight…wait…what? Sheldon's eyes snapped open he found himself staring down at a half-asleep Penny.

Penny snuggled deeper into the arms of her dream lover as he pulled her closer. She didn't resist as he rolled her over and pressed her into the mattress. She spread her legs to allow him access, biting her lip to keep from begging. It had been so long since she was truly satisfied. The closest she'd come in over a year was when she dreamed about Sheldon.

In her dreams he wasn't aloof or disparaging. He did sneer at physicality or desire. He was warm and commanding and completely focused on her. He wanted her as much as she wanted him. Of course, it was only fantasy. Sheldon would never look at her like that. She moaned as her dream lover found that sensitive spot beneath her ear. His hard cock nudged her opening and she arched into him. It was a shock to feel herself penetrated. Enough of a shock that she woke up and opened her eyes. She was speechless to see a drowsy Sheldon leaning over her, her legs wrapped around his waist.

For several seconds neither one of them dared to move. Then Sheldon's hips bucked a tiny bit and Penny's inner muscles tightened. Sheldon's eyes went wide and he licked his lips nervously. Slowly he pressed deeper inside her. Penny's hands slid up his arms and clung to his shoulders, her hips rising to meet him.

It took a couple of thrusts to find a rhythm, but soon they were moving in sync. Penny moaned and pulled him down toward her. Sheldon bent willingly to press his lips to hers. Outside the rain continued to pour down, washing the world clean.

Penny pulled on her jeans and tied her hair back in a ponytail. Sheldon stepped out of the bathroom his eyes darting everywhere but at her. They had lain in bed, no words passing between them, not even during both sessions of love making.

Penny sighed, knowing she couldn't call it anything else. It wasn't sex. It wasn't stress relief. It wasn't even a rebound or one-night stand. They had made love twice, lost in each other's arms, sleeping curled up together after each time.

Of course, now, in the light of day, things between them were awkward. Maybe even broken. When she opened her eyes, Sheldon had been in the shower and the bed was cold. She had sluggishly pulled on her clothes, hating herself for what had happened. Sheldon would never forgive her for this. She now moved past him to brush her teeth, and he looked at the floor.

As soon as the door shut Sheldon sat down on the edge of the bed and smoothed his hand over the sheets. Had he ruined everything? He had no idea what to say to Penny. How could he tell her how incredible last night was? How could he explain how many times he had dreamed of this, and how his dreams were nowhere near reality? Would she laugh at him and say it was just a one time thing? A friends-with-benefits type of night. He didn't dare lay his heart on the line. What if last night was just her feeling sorry for him?

All too soon Penny was back in the room, picking up the room key. "If we hurry we can get to that garage the clerk told us about before it gets too hot."

Sheldon nodded and stood to follow her out of the room. Penny opened the door and he stopped. How had he not noticed that last night? Surely he should have? Sheldon reached out and touched the door beneath the sign affixed to it. Penny stopped and looked at him curiously.


He looked at her with wide eyes. "Did you see this last night?" he asked.

She nodded. "Yeah. Remember? The clerk told us that's how we'd know this was our room. The previous owner had a weird sense of humor, I guess. Huge fan of Douglas Adams."

Sheldon stared at the plaque again.

This is Room 42. Inside lies the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. You just have to figure out the question.

'Sweetie? What's wrong?" Penny asked stepping closer.

Sheldon nodded to himself as he made up his mind. He turned to Penny and quickly pulled her close. He didn't give her a chance to ask any more questions. He kissed her with all the knowledge he had gained last night. His arms wrapped around her tight and after a half second's hesitation, Penny relaxed into him.

When his breathing became ragged and his pants were uncomfortably tight, he pulled away a couple of inches. "For a couple of years I have… wanted you," he admitted softly. "I dream about you and seeing you with Leonard hurt me badly. I hated losing Amy's friendship. especially so soon after losing Leonard's. I was also secretly thrilled. I could never desire her when I was already half in love with you. I do not know if last night means anything to you, but it does to me. I love you, Penny. I want to be with you."

Penny's jaw had dropped halfway through his speech. Slowly she smiled. "Thank god!" she whispered. "I was so scared you would hate me forever for last night!" Penny wrapped her arms around his waist tight and laid her head on his chest. "Sheldon, you're my best friend. I know it wasn't fair to Leonard or Amy, but I've wished for this for a very long time! I love you, too."

Sheldon felt a great weight slide from his shoulders as he held Penny close. They weren't perfect. They both knew it. But they had always found a way to connect with each other. They were going to fight and argue and get mad. They were also going to support each other, laugh, and love. Somehow it all felt right, like a key opening the right lock, or a puzzle piece snapping into it's correct place.

The clerk grinned as she watched the couple head back to the room they had just paid a full week for, arm in arm. There was something magical about room 42. It was actually room 13, but Mr. Peterson had been superstitious, and refused to number it so. Instead he labeled it 42 after some book he once read. She had lost count of how many people had stayed in it over the years and come out happier than they went in.

Heck, it's the one she met her husband in. He had been staying the night and she brought him fresh towels. He stopped her to complain about the noise next door, and during the course of their discussion, discovered they had a lot in common. The next day he checked out and left. Two days later he came back, saying he couldn't forget her. A month later they were married and for 21 years now they had been deliriously happy. Somehow she suspected this couple was in it for the long haul, too.

Maybe 42 really was the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.