A/N: Some cannon events will flow along with my story, but the plot departs from the world created by Lorre/Prady sometime in the middle of season 4.
I have to confess, I have not watched the show in two seasons, so no spoilers from me ;).
I don't own The Big Bang Theory
Cera couldn't believe she was actually booking train tickets. Cross country train tickets. One way. She started braiding a few of the front strands of her waist length, dark blond hair, as she usually did when she was nervous. When had things to come to this?
Three weeks ago she had a career that she had been working towards since she was 15, she was dating a nice guy who was getting serious, and she imagined a future. Now her career had suffered a great blow-at the hands of her now ex-boyfriend and she had no one to lean on. Her brother had moved out of state almost 5 years ago, her mom's brothers and sisters were local, but they all had their own kids, grandkids and lives. While she did own her own home and car, those things just seemed hollow and empty.
If she left now she could be settled in for the holiday and not be so alone. Even if her parents were out of the country, her brothers were there. She hoped moving home was the answer, it had worked out for her brothers when they had moved home. Of course moving to California was just a good career move for both of them. For her, it could very well be a big headache or heart ache. Probably both, but she needed to be away from here and she had to finally deal with that. But her biggest concern was, how was Merritt going to take this?
Penny was just wrapping up on another grueling day on that Cheesecake Factory when she noticed a certain former child actor at bar. "Whatsup Wheaton?" she said with a biting tone, still irritated at him for his hand in the break up with Leonard back in April.
"Now, now Penny, can't a guy stop into his favorite cheesecake restaurant and have a drink? Look, I know you have no reason to trust me, and you totally shouldn't. I was trying to throw off your game. And I succeeded." He grinned, "I just didn't think it would go down quiet like that…But I do think you are better off. I'm actually here to offer you an olive branch and…help a friend.
"I have a friend who's sort of new in town, she knows music and performance art and could give you a few pointers that could really help you out with timing and delivery at auditions and open up some different, more musical roles for you. She's not a musician by trade, but she's brilliant." Wil handed Penny a phone number.
"Huh? I don't think I really need-." Penny started.
"Look, she hasn't been back in California long, so I'm sure she'd like some company. Just remember her name is Cera with a 'K', not Sera with a 'S' otherwise you'll learn more about Welsh mythology than you want." said Wil pointing to the slip where the spelling and the sound didn't quite match.
"Oh goody, another know it all." huffed Penny
"She's not like that-she's just...particular...about her name, just like most people-Penelope." smirked Wil Wheaton.
"O-k, Cera with a 'k'. I guess it can't hurt."
Surprisingly the move had gone well. Of course Cera had insured that during the trip Merritt was constantly surrounded by the familiar and in situations that were as favorable as possible. The effort seemed to have been superfluous because Merritt proved, not only was she a trooper, but that she had the resilience to turn change and chaos into an adventure. If only Cera could follow suit and find something to do to settle into this new phase of life. The holidays had even been enjoyable and she was now settling into a New Year.
Cera hung up the phone wondering what she had agreed to, and why Wil thought it was a good idea. She wasn't sure what she had to offer the out of work actress. Sure she knew music, both classic and contemporary, but she wasn't a teacher and she wanted nothing to do with Hollywood or the music industry.
She had never used her musical ability professionally before, but since she was given a gift she should share it with others. At least that is what Wil had said when he suggested this. He knew her mother always insisted her children were gifted and gifts were meant to be shared. "You were given such wonderful and unique enhancements, Ceridwen, such bequest were meant to help and inspire others." her momma would say. Damn Wil for using that against her. The other motivating factor in agreeing was she felt lonely and detached since moving and getting settled in Santa Monica. Her days had been a string of resumes, interviews, and relearning her way around. Each day did come with a highlight though, lots of time with Merritt.
Four days later Cera and met with Penny in a Starbucks in Pasadena. She arrived early so that she wouldn't be late. Seems she wasn't capable of being on time, she was either early, or late. Seven minutes late to be exact, almost always. She knew because at one point in her past someone timed and informed her of that fact. What kinda of person times another's lateness?
As the time to meet Penny approached and then passed Cera begin to feel self-conscious. Should she have dressed up? Was the cut off denim skirt with the rough stitch organza flair too hippie? Surely there was nothing objectionable about a lavender V neck t-shirt (even if it did say 'Truly Outrageous' and have a Jem star across the front.) The ankle boots were a must, if she had to wear shoes, there need to be a benefit and at 5'3", extra height was a big plus.
Cera felt herself get agitated so she reached for and applied a small amount of the lime hand sanitizer. With that simple grounding action she relaxed and remembered it didn't matter was others thought, she was Ceridwin the Enchantress, and unapologetically so. Gone are the days of being something she is not.
Cera felt Penny give her the once over as she was approached by Penny after spotting her guitar. She seemed to have met with approval since Penny smiled and sat at the table making herself comfortable.
"Hey, I'm Penny, we spoke on the phone. I wasn't sure what to expect." Penny said as she shook Cera's hand.
"I'm Cera, having no expectations of such things may be to your benefit-you can only be surprised. I've never shared my gift professionally before. I do hope it's helpful." she said trying to subtly apply more hand sanitizer before sipping her cinnamon tea.
"Germaphobe?" Penny questioned pointing at her sanitizer before starting again, "I'm sure it can't hurt. We'll just figure it out together. So how do you know Wil?"
Cera smiled at the question, glad to talk about something she did know and was comfortable with-her friend. "Oh, this?" Cera gestured to her sanitizer. "Uh, no, it's to protect others. Wil and I have known each other for quiet sometime. He's been good friends with my older brothers since childhood." She said airily with a thoughtful grin.
As the seconds turned into a minute without anything else said, Cera realized Penny expected her to elaborate more. She wouldn't though, she felt like her personal information was precious pieces of herself and didn't hand it out to just anyone. Only close personal friend got details, even then there were things she held back. Perhaps if and when Penny was a trusted friend would Cera offer her details.
"So, Wil said you were a local. You don't sound local." Penny stated after two minutes of silence.
Cera knew Penny had picked up on the bit southern drawl she carried, not that she tried to hide it anymore. She considered how to answer this. It wasn't a hard question, it just had, many answers. The best answer was the simplest.
"My parents aren't locals... I was born elsewhere and spent a bit of time with relatives everywhere else. My childhood home is not far though." Cera said evasively. She was good at giving ambiguous answers. She spent a lot of time protecting herself from others.
"Well, I like it, it sounds homey." Said Penny smiling, after a time trying to curb the awkward meeting with kindness. After that the two fell into a cautious dialogue, developing a sense of each other's strengths and weaknesses for this endeavor.
Penny and Cera had been working together fairly well for the last six weeks. They met twice a week to study pitch, tone, voice projection and timing. Penny often invited Cera out for drinks or to meet her friends, but she always declined stating she didn't drink and that she had a busy evening ahead. Cera knew Penny had noticed her strange aloofness, but the behavior couldn't be helped. She always felt nervous with new people so she was especially reserved and gave simple answers, answers so simple they bordered on confusing…and odd. Cera wanted to break the awkwardness so she decided to bring Penny into a setting that was more a comfortable and natural for her.
Recently she invited Penny to see her 'jam with the band.' A group that consisted of Cera, her brother Braden, his wife Bet, her foster brother Elliott and his wife Tara. They covered a lot of classic rock music Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane, Jimmy Buffett, and Toll Bridge. They even included a few pieces of original work. This display of comfort and confidence helped Cera open up to Penny some and began some non-music-mentor conversations. Cera confesses that even though she was barefooted most of the time, she loved shoes as much as Penny, especially heels.
"I want you to meet my neighbors. I want them to see that I have just as much drive for my career as they do for theirs, ya know. They are under the impression that you are a hack and just 'Using your limited knowledge of the musical arts to increase your financial portfolio through my naivety .'" Penney said as they left the third shoe store that afternoon. "It's so funny that you've bought two pairs of shoes and once we get back in the car you will take your shoes off and go barefooted for the rest of the day."
"Occasionally, others prefer I wear shoes, so when I must, my feet are a medium of expression…Hmmm, their doubt and negativity bother you. Why are you concerned with the view of those who share a hallway with you?" Cera asked spacily as they exited the mall pulling off her shoes as she walked.
"Oh, they are good friends, well I did used to date one of them, Leonard. He was a pretty nice guy. And the other one is just…well…crazy. But they are both sooo smart, like, they really are geniuses, literally…or is that figuratively…anyway –Leonard's into music too-he plays the…cello, sometimes." Penny said getting into the car.
"Hmmm, They sound…interesting." Cera said dreamily "I like meeting new people, but only if they're interesting." After a beat Cera added "Honey, you can only thrive if you are being true to yourself-perhaps you are blooming in artificial sunlight." Penny shook her head at the cryptic statement and then remained silent for the rest of the ride to apartment.
As the duo climbed the stairs, Penny invited Cera over to the guys' apartment to meet the guys and have a drink, since her apartment was devoid of anything but tap water and even that would require a clean glass that she didn't have.
Penny opened the door as Cera took in the surroundings "The guys should be in any minute." As she noticed all of the comics and sci-fi paraphernalia her eyes zoomed in on the whiteboard across the room.
"Wow." breathed Cera. "Is that Leonard's work?" asked Cera warily accepting a bottle of water from Penny and approaching the board. She didn't like drinking out of plastic because of the chemical leeching, but she didn't want to be rude.
"No that belongs to his wack-a-doodle roommate. He's one of those beautiful mind genius guys." Penny explained as she turned to see Leonard coming in the door.
"Mmmm, intriguing, I wouldn't mind taking it out and playing with it. Utterly elegant." Cera admired.
"Hi, I'm Leonard. You know string theory?" Leonard introduced himself as he pointed to an equation curiously.
"Not string theory exactly, but I am…acquainted with physics."
"You are correct in your observation," came a voice from behind them, "both math and string theory are often referred to as elegant. In fact it was Bertrand Russell who said 'Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty.'" Sheldon explained coming behind Leonard.
"This is Sheldon, Leonard's roommate." Penny said gesturing to Sheldon, who was now standing a safe, germ free distance behind Cera, who was still staring at the board.
"Dr. Sheldon Cooper more precisely, I have a two doctorates and a master's degree." stated Sheldon smugly.
At this statement Cera whirled around to face him looking up at him for the first time. "Shel-Sheldon Cooper?" she whispered, her face going pale. She dropped her water bottle and fled the apartment.
The trio stared at the open door for a moment before Sheldon asked, "Penny, who was that woman and why did you let her in my apartment without proper footwear?"
Cera didn't stop running until she was in her car.