RULES:

1. Sheldon/Penny - They can be platonic, romantic, smutty, Super Heroes/Villains, etc.

2. Leonard/Amy's death MAY occur anytime from the Pilot thru Season 9.

3. The death must be completed in a single chapter, although you are welcome to contribute as many different forms of death as you like as long as they are a chapter each.

4. The story must be no more than 1,500 words long.

5. Deadline is October 31, 2015.


Sheldon looked at Penny sitting beside him. She was lost in her thoughts, it seemed. Lately he had noticed that she was spending a great deal more time with him. Him, alone, it seemed. Whenever Howard, Raj or Leonard were around, she wasn't.

He had mentioned this to Leonard, who immediately stammered something about a misunderstanding and hurried away. He also mentioned it to Raj, who quickly paled and denied knowing anything about it. He didn't bother talking to Howard as that usually led to inappropriate comments and sexual innuendos.

Sheldon picked up the remote and muted the TV before turning in his spot to look at her fully. Noticing the lack of noise, Penny looked up at him. "It has come to my attention that you are avoiding our friends. May I ask why?"

Penny stared at him for a moment before shaking her head. "You don't want to know," she said softly.

He rolled his eyes and huffed. "Penny, know I never do anything I don't want to. Therefore, if I ask for an explanation, it is because I do, indeed, want to know."

She shook her head wearily. "Let me rephrase. You don't need to know."

"Why not?" he whined. He hated not knowing something!

"Plausible deniability," she said with a hint of anger.

Sheldon frowned as he thought about that. "Penny, that would indicate that you are about to partake in an illegal activity."

She reached over and patted his knee gently. "Relax, Moonpie. Everything's going to be just fine," he said. Then she unmuted the TV and resumed watching Doctor Who.


On Tuesday Raj didn't show up for work. Sheldon didn't think much about it, enjoying the quiet of his office. Raj didn't show up Wednesday, either. He also noticed that Howard and Leonard were extremely jumpy. They would peek around corners and doors, jump if approached from behind, and were acting like nervous Nellies.

On Thursday two detectives came to Cal-Tech and questioned everyone about the disappearance of Raj. It seemed his apartment was empty, his belongings gone, and no one had heard from him Since early Monday afternoon. On Friday his parents hired private investigators to look into his disappearance.

When he did his laundry on Saturday, Penny seemed cheerful. Sheldon was relieved to have at least one friend who wasn't nervous and depressed.


Two weeks later Sheldon received an email from Howard. He hesitated to open it, knowing his treasured acquaintance's propensity to linking his emails to porn videos. Making sure the volume was off, he opened the message warily.

Sheldon,

As a Jewish man, I am used to guilt. However, I can no longer live with myself over what we did to you in the Arctic. I know you forgave us, but I am not worth of that forgiveness, or of your friendship. I hope that someday I can make amends.

Goodbye,

Howard

Sheldon stared at the message for a long time, certain it was some sort of joke. When Leonard got out of the shower Sheldon called him over to read the message. Leonard turned deathly pale, a low whine issuing from his throat. Leonard quickly searched his own email and found another message from Howard.

Sheldon read it over his shoulder, a feeling of alarm blooming in his stomach. He felt as if he was caught up in something completely out of his control.

Leonard,

I have to leave. I need to get my head on straight. We screwed up when we betrayed Sheldon. I need to find a way to make this right. I know we've talked about this a lot lately, and I agree with you that we deserve to be punished. I hope you find a way to make peace with your own actions as I struggle to do the same.

Adios, my friend,

Howard

"Leonard? What is going on?' asked Sheldon timidly.

Leonard slowly stood up and twisted his hands together. "Dear lord! I'm next!" he whispered.

"Next?" Sheldon repeated. "What is going on?" he demanded. "Next for what?"

Leonard looked up at Sheldon as if seeing him for the first time. "I... she..." Leonard grew deathly pale and shook his head. "I have to get out of here!" he said in a rush. He pushed past Sheldon and raced back to his bedroom.

Sheldon followed, fear making his stomach churn. "Leonard, what is going on?! I demand you answer me!"

Leonard pulled a duffle bag from his closet and threw some clothes and a spare inhaler into it. He rushed back out to the living room and closed his laptop, adding it to the bag.

"Money!" he said in a hysterical voice. Sheldon watched in shock as Leonard grabbed Green Lantern and dug the stash of money from out of him bottom. "I'll pay you back!" Leonard whimpered.

Sheldon twitched and took a step forward. "Please, Leonard! I do not understand!"

Leonard paused and turned back to Sheldon. He licked his lips nervously, walking over to grip Sheldon's forearms. "Sheldon, I want you to know I'm sorry. Truly and deeply sorry. Please let Penny know that I am very sorry."

"Penny? What are you talking about?" Sheldon asked, his voice breaking in fear. "What does she have to do with this?"

Leonard looked down, dropping his hands. "Everything. And nothing. She'll take care of you. She's proven that."

"Leonard, you are scaring me," Sheldon admitted in a small voice.

Leonard shouldered his duffle bag and opened the door. "Go to Penny," he said, his tone one of finality. "She'll handle everything."

Sheldon stood in the center of the room and watched a Leonard closed the door behind him.

Penny showed up 30 minutes later, looking for milk for her coffee. When Sheldon told her what had happened, she was shocked. She asked him to repeat the story several times. She fixed him some tea and found a rerun of Doctor Who, sitting on the couch beside him, offering comfort.

A hour later two uniformed police officers showed up with the news that Leonard's car had been involved in a accident on the interstate. Apparently his brakes had failed and he had crashed into a semi-truck transporting heavy machinery. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Over the next few weeks Sheldon came to rely on Penny heavily. She notified Leonard's family, helped make the arrangements to transport him back to New Jersey and even helped pack Leonard's belongings. She drove him back and forth to work, the comic shop and the store. She joined him for every meal, making sure he ate and rested.


Once the shock of Leonard's death wore off Sheldon began to remember things. How nervous his friends had been in the weeks prior to Leonard's death. How unsurprised Penny had been by Raj leaving. How scared Leonard had been by Howard's email. Leonard's cryptic words about Penny before he left the apartment. When Penny showed up for dinner he was waiting, determination written across his face.

"Hey sweetie. How was your day?' she asked.

"Penny, I have a question for you and I would appreciate an honest answer."

She smiled. "Okay. But be sure you really want to know the answer before you ask."

He thought about that for a moment. "Penny, I do not like mysteries."

She sat down and crossed one knee over the other. "Let me expand on that. Make absolutely sure you can live with the answer if you ask me that question."

"You know what I want to ask," he said.

She nodded. "I do."

"You know your response makes me more certain of your answer?"

"Without proof, it's just your word against mine," she pointed out. "Am I really someone you want to piss off?"

"Is that a threat?" he flinched.

She shook her head. "I'm your friend. As long as I am around, you'll never have anything to fear."

Sheldon was silent for several minutes. He suspected she had made Raj and Howard disappear, and tampered with Leonard's brake. He had no proof to support his suspicions. She had never harmed him. Could he live with not hearing her admit any of this?

After another minute he turned and picked up the remote. As his Meemaw had once told him, sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie.