A/N: Many thanks to my beta, delucababe!
I'm rating this a T, though I'm not completely finished so that may change. Posting will be every weekend for the next four weeks, then we'll start part 3.
Please read part one or this one won't make sense.
One Year Later...
Since they had moved into the house almost a year ago, both Leonard and Sheldon had received substantial raises. While Sheldon continued on with his dark matter research and theorizing, Leonard had begun to tour the great universities all around the US and Europe lecturing. He seemed to be 'on the road' more than at home.
Sheldon had turned a spare bedroom at the house into an office. He worked out of his home office unless Leonard was home to drive him to the university. Penny had not wanted leave for work thirty minutes early everyday just so she could take Sheldon to the university. She had expected him to throw a fit, but he'd been surprisingly agreeable. It seemed these days Sheldon used any excuse necessary to stay at home. Once a week he would allow Penny to take him to the comic book store, and once a month the train store. Other than that, he refused to leave the house.
Penny was concerned, but Leonard seemed uninterested in figuring out Sheldon's newest 'quirk'. She got fed up and started deliberately getting the wrong things he wanted at the grocery store. It only took two trips of coming home with the wrong things before he insisted on going with her. It was a small victory, but Penny was proud that she was able to get him out of the house at least two days a week.
Leonard believed his friend's behavior was his unique way of dealing with losing Amy, but Penny knew Sheldon's hermit-like personality was a result of their entire group of friends dispersing. The loss of Amy affected Sheldon differently. Despite his protests at the time, Sheldon had gotten used to some of the intimacies that Amy had coerced onto him. It didn't happen often but, occasionally, Sheldon would hold Penny's hand. It never lasted for more than a few seconds and Penny was careful not to call attention to it. There were also a couple of nights when the two them would watch television and Sheldon would move so their legs or shoulders would slightly touch. The touch would last longer than the hand holding, but they could ignore it easier with the TV on. Rarer still were the hugs. Sheldon would go out of his way to do something 'nice' for Penny. He would usually get her some weird gift like a coffee mug with a humorous slogan, a key-chain that lit up or some type of candy. This happened three times before Penny realized he was trying to get her to hug him.
Deciding she didn't want him to buy her any more weird 'gifts', she started asking him for hugs usually after they'd skyped with Leonard. Her excuse was always because she was missing Leonard. He would usually roll his eyes or give her a put-upon look, but the hug he eventually gave her would be warm and tight and last for long time. It became something she looked forward to, and it made her dread when Leonard would actually be home and she would have to skip it.
Penny sighed with relief when she finally pulled her car into the driveway. It had been an extremely stressful week at work. Her company had lost a major high-profile and very public law suit the week before. Some politician's kid had a fatal reaction to a medication he should never had been given in the first place, but now none of the doctors wanted to prescribe any of their company's drugs. Even the doctors in her sales territory were resisting her assurances that everything was fine.
After as many field visits as she could make, her day ended with a huge company-wide meeting informing her they had laid off 20% of all employees in an effort to save money and spare the company. Her boss, Dan, had been one of them. She'd cried when he hugged her goodbye, but he had been in good spirits. He had a lead another position that he felt was a sure thing.
Still, the atmosphere at work had changed drastically. She used to enjoy going to work. Well, it was still 'work' but it was better than waitressing and Penny was shown a lot more respect at the pharmaceutical company than she ever had at the Cheesecake Factory. However, she was getting to the point where being looked down on for her job would be preferable to the constant fear she, and everyone she worked with, had to endure on a daily basis. Would they still have a job tomorrow?
While it was difficult for Penny, she recognized the fear was greater in her co-workers who had families and actual mouths to feed. Her money mainly went to pay a third of the mortgage on the house, it was actually in Leonard and Sheldon's names as her credit history would have destroyed their application. They would have no trouble taking over paying the mortgage without her, it would be a pretty big blow to her pride though.
She grabbed the pizza box in the passenger seat and headed into the house.
"Sheldon? I'm home," she called, setting the box on the kitchen counter.
She shed her jacket and hung it in the hall closet. Sheldon stuck his head out of his office and sniffed.
"Pizza? Friday night is Chinese, Penny!" he reprimanded.
"Yeah, well, I wanted pizza. You want Chinese, get your ass out of the house and get it yourself," she said. It was her latest idea to encourage him to leave the house.
He huffed, but joined her in the living room a few minutes later and took a slice from the box. She hid a grin and went back to the kitchen to make a drink. Sheldon had his water bottle and Penny knew better than to ask if he wanted anything. She returned to the living room and watched him setting up his old Nintendo.
"I guess tonight its Pizza and vintage video games," he groused.
"So, what are we playing?"
"Super Mario Bros 3. Did you know they made a movie called'The Wizard' to coincide with the games release?" he asked, handing her a controller.
She nodded. "Yeah, I remember. I had a huge crush on Fred Savage!" Sheldon gave her a disgusted look before settling down beside her.
They took turns playing and eating until they were interrupted by Penny's cell phone. It was Bernadette. She handed her controller to Sheldon and walked up stairs to her bedroom.
"Hey Bernie! How's New York?" Penny asked. Every time her friend called it was to brag about more good things happening for her and Howard.
"Great. Just freakin' great," her friend answered sarcastically and hiccupped.
Penny felt a lump begin to form in her stomach. "Oh, Bernie! Did they let you go?"
"Yes. S'okay though, I got a big severance. I'm smart, I'll get something else," she insisted, and Penny could hear her slurping a drink.
"Oh, well, how fortunate for you," Penny said sitting on her bed.
"It's you I'm worried about," her friend continued.
"Me? No, I'm fine. They let Dan go, but I..."
"Oh, Penny! You don't understand yet, do you? The company is going belly-up. They're giving their MVP's good severance packages and references, but they'll be filing bankruptcy next week."
"What? What does that mean for me?" Penny demanded.
"It means you'll get laid off too, but since they'll file bankruptcy first, they won't have to pay you a severance or for unused vacation and sick days," Bernadette explained and hiccupped again.
Penny felt like someone had punched her in the stomach.
"Wha... I don't..."
"Penny, you can't tell anyone else! I can get in big trouble. I shouldn't have told you, but we used to be friends so..."
Used to be friends?
Penny hung up without saying goodbye. Her eyes burned, but she swallowed back the tears. No, she was not going to cry. She had known something like this was likely to happen, it was not the end of the world. She felt a pang for her other co-workers. Part of her wanted to tell them and make sure everyone knew Bernadette was the one who told her, but Penny wasn't vindictive like that. Bernadette was drunk and would probably call back to apologize tomorrow.
She took a deep breath and went back downstairs. She freshened her drink, adding several more shots of vodka, then returned to the couch. Sheldon tried to hand her a controller, but she shook her head.
"No Sweetie, I just want to watch you play."
Leonard had been very supportive when she told him over skype. He had been sympathetic and spouted all kinds of platitudes until he started yawning. Penny quickly ended the call so he could sleep. She couldn't remember exactly where he was, somewhere in Europe, and it was probably early morning there. The short call helped her to feel better, though. Leonard basically told her not to worry about paying her share for a while. He said she should focus on deciding what she wanted to do next and not worry about the money.
His acceptance combined with the alcohol allowed her to fall asleep.
She awoke the next morning to smell of bacon and hurried down to the kitchen, stomach growling.
"Wow, Sheldon! What's all this?" she asked, heading for the coffee.
He gave her one of his forced smiles. "Leonard called me last night and said you lost your job. He said I needed to be extra nice to you," Sheldon explained, but he sounded upset.
Penny blinked and tilted her head. "Why are you upset?" She asked.
"Why didn't you tell me? Why did I have to hear about this from Leonard? I thought we were best friends, Penny," he accused, stabbing at the scrambled eggs he was cooking in a frying pan.
Penny nodded and gave him an apologetic smile.
"You're right, Sheldon. I should have told you last night. We were just having such a good time together that I didn't want to ruin it with my news," she lied, sipping her coffee.
The truth was she had been afraid Sheldon would have said something hurtful and she would have broken down.
He stared at her for a long moment before turning back to the eggs.
"Okay. I don't think you're being honest with me, but okay," he said, letting it go.
Penny didn't comment, just took a seat at the kitchen table and watched him cook.
He finished cooking breakfast and brought her a serving before getting a plate for himself. They ate in silence for a few minutes.
"So, I guess I need to start looking for another job. Got any suggestions?" she asked him.
He thought it over for a moment. "Well, given your work history I'd say waitress, but I have a feeling you don't want to do that again," he said.
Penny made a face.
"I thought not. Do you have a copy of your resume I can look at?" he asked.
"Um, yeah on my laptop. But I haven't updated it since I got my last job."
He nodded. "Alright. After breakfast we'll work on your resume and do some online job searches. Then we can go to the grocery store," he reminded her.
"Yeah, yeah." Like she could forget Saturday was grocery day.
"Then we can do laundry," he added.
Over the next six months Penny tried and failed at a lot of different jobs. The ones she thought would be best for her she couldn't even get interviews for and the others felt like they should be beneath her. After having the cushy pharmaceuticals sales rep position, it was very hard to fall back to sales associate at Target. Penny couldn't tolerate what she felt was disrespect from her managers and co-workers after a year and a half of schmoozing with doctors.
She knew Leonard was getting sick of her complaints and it seemed he was avoiding having conversations with her. Sheldon kept pushing for her to further her education until she finally gave in and took a speed course to become certified as an administrative assistant. The one job interview she got after that was to work for a sleazy guy who spent most of the interview staring at her legs and chest... and she didn't even get offered the job.
Sheldon recommended taking some cooking classes, pointing out Penny knew the restaurant industry very well and might find more satisfaction working the kitchen than she did waiting tables. Penny reluctantly gave in, but would only do it if Sheldon joined her. If nothing else, it would be two more nights a week she got Sheldon out of the house.
The cooking classes were fun and ended up leading to an assistant manager position with a catering company. Penny was all set to start her new job where she would be making almost as much as her pharmaceutical sales rep position when she got a call from the company's HR department.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Hofstadter, but we have to withdraw our offer of employment. You failed the screening."
"Screening? The drug screening? But I don't do drugs!"
"No, Ma'am, it was an alcohol and drug screening. The test revealed you to be an excessive drinker and I'm sorry but we cannot hire you at this time."
It was a crushing blow after everything she had been through. What was she going to tell Leonard and Sheldon? This was all so embarrassing. If she had just known, she would have made sure that she sobered up before taking the test, but it hadn't occurred to her they would check for alcohol, too.
She sat on the couch and put her head in her hands. What was she supposed to do now?
Her cellphone rang again and she eagerly reached for it, hoping against hope the company had changed their mind.
It was her brother.
He was crying.
That was odd, in all her life Penny could count on one hand the number of times she had seen him cry, and all of them had been before he was sixteen.
"What is it?" she demanded, freaked out.
Her sister-in-law took phone.
"Penny? I'm so sorry to tell you this, but there was an accident. Your parents..." she trailed off with a sob.
Penny swallowed, heart racing.
"What about them? Are they all right?"
"They're gone, Penny. I'm s-sorry."
A/N: If you liked it, I'd love to hear it! ;D
Edit (1 hr after posting): So I've received two reviews so far, of course they are both anonymous as I'm sure they are aware that what they are doing/saying is wrong. Unfortunately as a Shenny shipper in this fandom this is what you have to put up with. It's why fanfiction has really been decreasing lately with this ship/fandom. I'd like to say that I am above such drivel, but the truth is that things like this hurt. I spend a lot of time and effort writing these stories and I don't get paid for it. (This is true of all fanfic authors so please keep this in mind before you leave reviews on anyone's work. Because that is what this is... work. Work that we get compensated for by reviews only.) I write because I love it. If you don't agree/don't like what I write, that's fine. I'm sure you have much better things to do with your time than leave a hurtful comment on it. But if you liked it, I would love to hear it. Even if it's just a 'thank you for sharing'. So here are they are, I'd be grateful for any comment of support against them:
1.)Story: Am I Happy Now? Part Two: How Long 'Till I Hit Bottom
Chapter: 1. Chapter 1
:Jus pathetic and ridiculous! What planet are you living in? And what show have you been watching? You should be committed, seriously, get some help! I feel so sorry for you! You are so sad!
2.)Story: Am I Happy Now? Part Two: How Long 'Till I Hit Bottom
Chapter: 1. Chapter 1
:Sheldon and penny endgame? That's just fu kind ridiculous! sheldon belongs with Amy, remember gollum's? he got her a f*** gracias engagement ring! plus That blond useless b*** married Leonard, so no, it will never happen...
As they are guest reviews I have deleted them, because I don't think it's fair that they should be able to critique without allowing me a chance to respond. However if I could respond I would say: Being mean is lame, being nice is cool.
I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I want the fans of this fandom/ship to know that there are these trolls out here who anonymously (cowardly) review based on summaries (I only marked Penny and Sheldon as being in this fic, so that is what they would have searched for to find it.) And put personal attacks in their reviews. TBH if I didn't have an awesome beta/cheerleader I'd probably walk away from this fic. I've decided to continue to write and finish it, even if it's just for me. If you don't feel like reviewing, that's fine, but personally I could use some encouragement after being attacked like that. :(