A/N: Unfinished fics drive me crazy. There was one in particular that kept bugging me; I liked the premise (Penny and Sheldon wake up together after a night on the town in Vegas and find out they've gotten married) but the author left off just when it was getting good. So I started thinking about how the story should end. And then I decided to highjack the idea and just write my own story. Since I don't want to knock the author who abandoned their fic, I won't post a link to the story here, but PM me if you want to read the work that inspired this one.
Penny looked away as Leonard and Priya swapped spit again. Wow, I never realized how gross it is to watch people make out, she thought. Perhaps that was especially true when one of those people was Leonard, since she knew firsthand that he thought pushing his tongue around like a hyperactive slug was sexy. With a sigh, she downed the rest of her drink.
"How's it going, Raj?" she asked, turning to her other side. The astrophysicist gave her a thumbs-up, listing slightly on his barstool as he leaned to watch a scantily-clad waitress pass. This latest impulse trip to Vegas was supposedly to console him since his latest girlfriend of two weeks had just dumped him. Personally, Penny thought everyone just wanted to cut loose for a weekend. It was almost weird to have all of them here together. The group had been rather fragmented since she broke up with Leonard. She was kind of shocked that Priya hadn't protested more when she heard Penny had decided to tag along. Maybe the excessive PDA was her way of making sure Penny got her message of "Back off, bitch, he's mine".
Meanwhile, a well-lubricated Raj couldn't tear his eyes away from the waitress he was ogling. "I think she likes me. She's just playing hard to get," he said hopefully.
Rolling her eyes, Penny commented drily, "You don't even know her name."
"The language of love needs no words," he replied dreamily and went back to staring at the woman.
Penny craned her neck to look at Sheldon, who was leaning against a pillar with his arms crossed, a slightly sour look on his face. "Having fun, sweetie?" she teased. He was still sulking after being ordered not to count cards in the casino. According to him, it was child's play. However, on the last trip to Vegas, he'd gotten all four of the guys thrown out of the casino by saying exactly that within earshot of a casino security guard.
He glowered at her moodily, and she wondered why on earth he kept coming on these trips if he hated them so much. Apparently, either his loyalty to his friends or the magic phrase "non-optional social convention" had convinced him.
"Of course not," he grumbled. "I don't drink, I'm only allowed to gamble if I throw my money away like a brainless moron, and I have no interest in lusting over mostly-naked women."
Penny looked askance at him over that last remark. She had always wondered about his complete disinterest in sex and dating. Then along had come Amy, who was just as rude and socially clueless as Sheldon, not to mention smart enough to understand him somewhat when he started talking physics. Since he had been meeting her regularly, Penny figured he must like her, even though he insisted they were just friends.
With another disgusted glance over at Leonard and Priya, Penny pushed away from the bar and stood up. "Wanna go for a walk? We could go see the big fountains," she offered.
"Ah, yes, the famed Bellagio waterworks, otherwise known as the most excessive outdoor display of waste in Las Vegas. This is a desert, Penny. Do you know how many gallons of water those fountains lose each day to evaporation?"
Penny turned and started to walk away. "Last chance," she called over her shoulder. She couldn't resist a grin when she hear the pounding of his feet as he jogged to catch up with her.
It took over an hour for them to reach the fountains, mostly because Penny wanted to keep stopping to peer into high-end shop windows. She also dragged Sheldon through a few of the more exotically decorated casinos. He complained all the way, but there was a relaxed set to his shoulders that made Penny think he wasn't as miserable as he sounded.
The ground was littered with flyers for gentlemen's clubs and escort services. Idly, Penny picked up one that had been left on a bench. The full-color photo pictured a woman with an improbably top-heavy figure wearing nothing but pasties and a G-string. She waved it under Sheldon's nose.
"So this really does nothing for you?" she asked curiously.
He glanced at it and then looked quickly away. "It's a vulgar display of the crudest elements of society, luring men to throw away their money on a meaningless, temporary relief of their most primitive biological urges."
Penny shrugged and stuffed it in her purse, thinking she might tease him about it later if she got really bored. "But what if you fell in love?" she asked with a smirk. "What if you got married? Wouldn't you want to have sex with your wife?"
He spun to face her. "That's a ridiculous question. Of course, if I got married then I would expect coitus to be part of my marital relations. But it's a moot point, because I have no time for dating and no interest in it either. Science is my only mistress."
He kept on walking, leaving Penny standing frozen with shock on the sidewalk. She'd never imagined that he would even consider the possibility of having sex. Much as she didn't want to admit it, she was now intensely curious to dig deeper and find out more about his views on sex and marriage. She had a dizzying moment where she tried to picture him in bed with a woman and realized that as long as she didn't imagine him talking constantly, the idea was rather hot. She grinned as he came back to her side, breaking her reverie with his scolding that she was lagging behind. She wondered what his reaction would be if he found out she had been picturing him naked.
Exasperated, Sheldon hurried her along until they finally arrived at the Bellagio fountains. Penny leaned on the railing and watched for a few minutes, then turned to Sheldon. "Okay, I've seen 'em. Now what?"
"I would prefer to return to my hotel room and watch reruns of original Trek until bedtime," he replied.
Penny rolled her eyes. "You could do that at home. Come on, Sheldon, live a little!" Just then, she spotted a Western-themed casino that was tucked a little out of the way. It boasted a small replica of the famous neon "waving cowboy" sign from Vegas's heyday in the fifties. A sign out in front listed the casino's attractions, one of which was an indoor shooting range. Her eyes gleamed. Out of all of their friends, she and Sheldon bonded over some weird commonalities. One of which was the fact that they were both fairly proficient with firearms.
"Hey, look, they have an indoor shooting range!" she cried, pulling at Sheldon's arm. "Wanna find out which one of us is the better shot?"
She knew that one of the few activities Sheldon had shared with his dad was going out hunting, although she imagined he had deliberately avoided killing anything. Dressing an animal would be far too messy for a neat freak like him. But as their weekly Halo nights proved, they were both good shots. They would often team up, the two of them against Leonard, Raj and Howard, and still kick ass.
Sheldon put up only a token resistance before he allowed her to pull him toward the range. Maybe she was mistaken, but it even seemed to her that a slight smile hovered around the corners of his mouth. She loved seeing him like this. Ever since he had started hanging out with Amy, he always had this uncertainty shadowing his eyes. It may have been well camouflaged by his usual high-handedness, but Penny could always see it, and it broke her heart. Sheldon's confidence had always pushed the limits of arrogance, but she kind of liked him that way. Then there had been that stupid research trip to the Arctic. She knew Sheldon had forgiven his friends for the cruel prank they played, but he hadn't been the same since. He slouched more, his shoulders hunching over as if to protect himself from some blow. And he started giving in to Amy in a way that would have made his previous self aghast. So Penny's mind was made up. Tonight, the two of them were going to forget their troubles and have the best time ever.
"Hey, no fair!" Penny cried, pouting a little. She pulled on Sheldon's arm, trying to snatch the perforated target paper out of his hands. With his longer arms, he easily kept it out of reach.
"I'm clearly the better marksman," he said haughtily, but with a sparkle in his eye. He held out the paper and admired it. Only one shot had missed the smallest circle of the bull's-eye.
"Well, it wasn't a fair contest," she protested. "I had a couple drinks earlier, while you're still stone-cold sober."
He smirked at her. "We could have a rematch tomorrow night if you insist, but the results would still be the same."
"Nothin' doin'. We're gonna have a rematch now." She grabbed his sleeve and started pulling him toward the exit. Once they left the range, she steered him toward the nearest bar. Since it was Vegas, they didn't have to walk far in order to find one.
Inside, she ordered two beers. "I'll go easy on you," she said, twisting the top off her own bottle. "You only have to finish one beer before we have our rematch."
He shot her a disdainful glance and downed the beer quickly, grimacing at the taste. He set the bottle back onto the bar with a little more force than necessary. "I'll teach you to mess with Texas," he growled.
Something in Penny's mind piped up, Oh hell yeah, and she blushed furiously. "You need a hat," she blurted out, to cover her confusion. It was kind of random, but seeing him with a gun in his hands and then hearing that Texas twang in his voice was giving her ideas. "A cowboy hat. Can't be a real Texan without one."
The fact that Sheldon agreed with her was proof of how quickly the alcohol had gone to his head. They were still in the Western-themed casino, so a country Western boutique was only a few steps away. They spent over an hour trying on hats, boots, chaps and anything else that caught their fancy. Their fun ended when Penny started looking at price tags and realized that neither of them could actually afford any of the over-priced merchandise. She was ready to do something more active anyway, so she dragged Sheldon to a club because she felt like dancing. He nursed another beer as he watched her. By this time, there was a silly grin on his face, and when Penny checked in with him, she easily talked him into doing a few shots with her. Then she had a few more, trying to rid herself of the strange sensation that she could feel the weight of his gaze on her as she danced. By this time, her head was reeling. Laughing, she pulled Sheldon, by the hand into the nearest casino. Even three sheets to the wind, he could still count cards, and within a half hour, their fifty dollars turned into a few thousand.
They returned to the boutique and proceeded to spend their ill-gotten gains. They both bought Stetson hats and beautifully tooled boots. Sheldon let Penny dress him up in jeans and a plaid shirt that bought out the blue in his eyes. She found a cute pink halter top and paired it with an amazingly soft suede skirt that barely covered what it needed to when she bent over. It might have been her imagination, but she thought that Sheldon raked his gaze up and down her exposed skin when he thought she wasn't looking.
Now that they were dressed for the part, they made their way back down to the shooting range, only to be turned away due to their advanced state of inebriation. Outside the range, the ensuing argument over whose fault it was dragged on until Penny had the brilliant idea to shut Sheldon up by kissing him. She had been watching his eyes glint at her from beneath the broad brim of his hat and thinking it was so unfair that he claimed he wasn't interested in women, dating or sex. So she backed him up against a wall and then kissed him for all she was worth. She did shut him up, but not in the way she expected. He peeled her off him and gave her a long, penetrating look. Then he burrowed both hands in her hair and kissed her as thoroughly as he knew how. Of course, he knew next to nothing, but he was a fast learner. Before she knew it, Penny had one leg shamelessly wrapped up around his hip for leverage as their tongues teased and probed. He was supporting her with one large hand splayed against her back. His other hand was exploring her soft skin that was exposed where her short skirt had ridden up. She felt his hard length pressing against her stomach as he bucked his hips against her.
"Let's go back to the hotel," she panted in his ear. "I need you inside of me."
He pulled back, an expression nearing panic on his face. Just as Penny was about to either flounce off or apologize (she couldn't decide which one was more appropriate), he shook his head slowly.
"I promised my mother," he said, enunciating carefully.
Penny could only stare in muzzy-headed confusion. "Promised her what?"
"That I'd wait… for marriage."
She looked away quickly, blinking back the tears that were suddenly clouding her vision. Sure, she knew she wasn't really the kind of girl a guy wanted to bring home to meet his mother. And in her mind, her twenties were supposed to be all about partying and living it up. Marriage was something for the distant future. But despite all that, she knew she wasn't good enough for the likes of Sheldon Cooper, PhD. She didn't want to hear the inevitable insult-laced rejection, so she pulled away from him.
He caught her hand before she could walk off, and she turned back to him reluctantly. With a gentle caress, he brushed the hair back from her face. He kissed her again softly, and then sank to one knee in front of her. "Penny, will you marry me?" he asked.
So great was her joy that she didn't even have to think about her answer. She threw herself into his arms as she started to cry, this time tears of happiness.