A/N: I have dubbed the Penny x Junior ship "Junior Rodeo." You're welcome.
I don't have a timeline placement for this fic. I fucked it up by having "Kitten" in there pre-Shamy. I don't actually care.
This one's for Shenny Fan, without whose encouragement this probably never would've been written at all. Thanks, bro, I hope it's up to snuff. ;)
Penny had a Friday off for once and didn't feel like staying in for Chinese and Vintage Videogames. Instead, she had a ticket to see the rodeo, something she hadn't done since Omaha.
She didn't know anyone else who liked rodeos, but she was perfectly content to go alone. She could truly let go and be her true self here. The blaring country music wasn't her favorite, but it sounded like home and if she knew the words she sang along and enjoyed herself.
Her favorite part had always been roping, but she always loved watching the bronc and bull riding.
Now that Leonard was with Priya, Penny was on the prowl, and where better than a travelling rodeo to find someone for a roll in the hay?
The one she had her eye on was tall, broad shouldered and thin in the waist, with dark hair. She couldn't see his eyes from the angle she had, next to the bucking chute, but he had a striking profile. Her eyebrow twitched in intrigue. He'd do. He'd do just fine.
The saddled bronc he rode put up a hell of a fight, but the cowboy held on and came out with over eighty points. Not too shabby. When he left the arena she put a little more sway in her hips and a flirty grin on her lips and handed the man a bottle of water.
"Nice ridin', cowboy. I'm Penny."
Standing at a good six feet two inches he inclined his head in greeting and downed the bottle in one go. "George," he said. "Thanks for the water, Penny. That was my last gig for the day, you wanna join me for a dog and a beer?" The blue gingham of his shirt made his cerulean eyes shine in the sunlight.
"I'd love to."
They sat at a picnic table and enjoyed the sight of each other while they ate and talked.
"So, Penny," George said. "Don't look like you're from 'round here, am I right?"
Penny grinned. "You are right. I'm from Omaha, but I moved out here to become an actress. Hasn't really panned out yet, but I haven't given up hope." She took a sip of her beer. "What about you? Where you from?"
George laughed. "Oh, I'da thought that'd be obvious. Texas."
"Well, then," she laughed. "Good thing I didn't say Oklahoma, huh?"
"Damn skippy," he replied, clinking his bottle with hers at the neck and taking a drink.
"How long's this rodeo goin'?" Which translated to 'How long are you gonna be around?'
"Well, the rodeo itself runs from today til Sunday, but I don't have to be at the next one for another week." Which, with the smirk, translated to 'I'm here all week, darlin'.'
Subtext can be a wonderful thing.
"You got a place to crash?" 'Wanna crash at mine?'
"The circuit's paid for a room at the Holiday Inn, but I haven't checked in yet." 'I got a place, but it's up to you.'
"Well, I know where that is. I could give you a lift." 'And stay a while.'
"Yes you could."
No need for subjext there.
The moment they were in the room he had her up against the door.
His chaps hit the floor and his boots were tossed across the room while she quickly toed off her own. They tried unbuttoning each others' shirts but got a bit tangled and laughter broke their kiss.
"How's about a shower, kitten?" he suggested. "I reckon I stink like the horse I rode in on."
Something rattled in her brain at the nickname, but Penny shrugged it off and grinned. "Sure, but it's not as bad as you think. I actually like a sweaty man with a little dust in his hair."
Hours later they lay in the queen sized bed smelling of coconut-lime hotel soap and sex. His black cowboy hat covered her chest and his chaps covered absolutlely nothing.
"You're good at the saddle bronc riding," she started once she caught her breath. "Why don't you do the bareback?"
He turned his head her way and grinned. "You're gonna laugh, but momma won't let me. Says it's too dangerous. Figure it's the least I could do, give her a bit o' peace o' mind. Also why I don't do the bulls."
"I think that's sweet." Her stomach growled and they both laughed.
"Room service?" he asked.
"Like you have to even ask."
She just paid for the one day ticket, but he got her in the next day, too. She had to work Sunday or it would've been the whole weekend. After she went home to change clothes she spent the whole day with him. Learned he liked the older country songs, but not the new crap they play on the radio; learned that he had a younger brother and sister, but not their names, that his daddy was a drunk and his momma was a Jesus freak. It rang a faint bell, but Penny didn't make any connections. She spent the night with him again and was glad, not for the first time, that she didn't have a pet since Sheldon's luminous fish died about two weeks after he'd given it to her.
Sunday she dropped him off at the fair grounds and returned to her apartment to change into her work clothes. She had the afternoon shift, which meant she went in at eleven and got off at eight.
She was on her way down the stairs when the guys exited 4A, kites in hand. Apparently it was the perfect day for Kite Fighting. They descended the stairs as a group.
"So you didn't show up for Chinese on Friday," Leonard said, awkwardly starting a conversation but unsure where he wanted it to go. "What'd you do instead?"
"I went to the rodeo," she said, figuring that would shut him up. She really wasn't into Leonard questioning her social life since their breakup and he was never comfortable with her bringing up her cowgirl history. It brought up images of castration.
It worked. The boys spent the rest of the descent basically trash-talking each other, which wasn't impressive given their chosen field of battle was a kite fight in the park down the street, but to each their own.
She texted George on her lunch break to get his scores and ask if he wanted to get dinner after her shift.
He excelled, of course, and said he'd meet her at the Cheesecake Factory so he could follow her home in his rental.
Leonard heard Penny's voice coming from the stairwell, along with another, more masculine voice, and he paused his opening of the door to listen.
"So whaddya think, Thai or sushi?" the man asked. He sounded vaguely familiar.
"Not Thai, that's on Mondays. I haven't had sushi in forever, though," was Penny's answer.
They rounded the corner as the mystery man continued. "Thai tomorrow?"
Penny, having seemingly realized what she said, elaborated. "Oh, my neighbors have Thai on Mondays and I usually hang out with them after work. Hi, Leonard." She looked over her shoulder at the tall muscular man with dark hair and familiar blue eyes and gestured. "George, this is Leonard, one of my neighbors. Leonard, this is George. He was in the rodeo I mentioned."
"Nice to meet you, George," he timidly shook the man's hand, eyes slightly squinting. "Um, don't take this the wrong way, but you look awfully familiar."
George didn't get a chance to reply, as the door to 4A opened up to Sheldon berating his roommate.
"Leonard, we can hear you through the door. If you insist on standing in the hall to chat with Penny and her latest conquest, could you at least bring the food in first?"
Sheldon seemed to take notice of the man then. "George? What on Earth are you doing here?"
"I'm...on the rodeo circuit, here for the weekend."
Before he could say any more, Penny interrupted. "Wait wait wait, what? Sheldon, you know George?"
"Know him? Penny, he's my older brother, George Cooper Jr."
Leonard's look of confusion changed to a look of comprehension. "Thaaaaaat's why he looked familiar," he told no one in particular.
"Okay, this is super weird. I'm gonna go change and then we," she gestured to George and herself, "are getting sushi because I am starving."
Sheldon tried to say something but Penny just wanted to get out of her nasty uniform. "Sheldon, your food's getting cold."
"Oh dear, you're right," he said and grabbed the bag out of Leonard's hand, rushing back into his apartment.
Leonard followed, saying, "It was, uh...nice to meet you, George."
George, eyebrows still lost in his hairline, followed Penny into her apartment. "So you know little Shelly. Can't say I saw that'n comin'."
Penny snorted. "Yeah, well, now that I know you're his brother I can see the family resemblance. But only in looks. I definitley would not have pegged you as related to Sheldon." She thought for a second as she pulled off her waitress skirt and pulled on a pair of cutoff shorts. "Then again, I've met Missy and I wouldn'ta guessed they were twins, either, so..."
"Yeah, Shelly's one of a kind. Ain't nobody else in our family quite like him. You seem to got a pretty good handle on 'im, though."
Penny re-entered the living room fully dressed and pulling her hair into a ponytail. "Eh. Distract him before he gets going and get the hell out, easy peasy. Now let's go, I'm starving."
Upon their return to Los Robles she invited him up for coffee.
"Nah, I'd better call momma 'fore it gets too late over there. She always wants to know my scores and if I got hurt or anythin'. I'll walk y'up, though. Maybe Shelly can get her on Skype. She worries 'bout him sometimes, it'll be good for 'im."
Penny can just imagine that conversation and laughs. "Oh I'm sure."
Once they reached the fourth floor Penny put her arms around his neck and languidly kissed him goodnight.
"I'm gonna go take a nice, hot, relaxing bath. If you change your mind, Sheldon has an emergency key."
"Mmm, I just might take y'up on that, kitten."
The nickname raised the tiny hairs on the back of her neck, and Penny couldn't quite shake the strange feeling even as she closed the door.
George tried the door to 4A and found it unlocked. Upon entering, he found his little brother sitting on the end of the couch, laptop perched precariously on his knees. He was playing some kind of game that involved rapid keystrokes and heated yelling into a microphone near his lips. "Break left and skewer him, then leap away and lighting the crap out of him. With any luck it'll do enough damage that I can get close and take him out." Sheldon hadn't seemed to notice him walk in.
He plopped next to him on the couch and loudly said, "Whatcha playin', Shelly?"
The desired result was achieved. Sheldon jumped and just managed to catch his laptop before it fell to the ground. "Dammit, Junior, what the hell?" He realized his mic and the game were still on and said "AFK," before teleporting to a safe area and pausing.
George was barely keeping his laughter to himself. It wasn't often that Shelly swore, which made it infinitely hilarious when he did. "Aw, Shelly, whassamatter? Not happy to see your big brother?"
Sheldon scowled and calculated how long this visit was likely to last. Sighing to himself he picked up his laptop and put his headset back on. Unpausing the game, he said, "Unfortunately, outside events have called me away. May the power of Crom be with you." He signed out and set his laptop aside once more.
He turned slightly to face his older sibling. "Junior, when am I ever happy to see you? Or anyone from our family, for that matter?"
George shrugged. "Meemaw. And don't call me Junior."
Sheldon waved him away. "Meemaw doesn't count. And don't call me Shelly." George nodded his acquiescence. "Why are you here?" Sheldon continued.
"I said earlier, rodeo." Before he could say any more, Sheldon interrupted.
"No, I mean why are you here, in my apartment."
George tipped his head back a bit and sprawled out more on the couch. "Ah. Well, I dropped off Penny after sushi and thought I'd drop by 'n see how you were, maybe see if you could get momma on Skype. I usually call her after a rodeo, and she'd love to hear from ya."
Mostly as an excuse to put distance between himself and his brother, Sheldon moved to the kitchen and started fixing himself a cup of tea. "I would rather not talk to momma, but if you must, you may use my laptop." He hadn't closed it and all of the important folders were password protected, not that he thought his brother would understand any of it even if he did manage to open them.
George grabbed the laptop off the coffee table and brought up Skype, which was already signed into. "Who's Amy Farrah Fowler? Sheldon, did you manage to find yourself a girlfriend?" The teasing tone went right over Sheldon's head, but he'd been around George Junior long enough to know when his leg was being pulled.
"Amy Farrah Fowler is a girl and she is a friend but she is not my girlfriend," he elaborated. "She studies neurobiology and believes it to be superior to Physics. I could never engage such a person in more than friendship." Despite the stools at the kitchen island he remained standing as his tea steeped and cooled to optimum flavor and comfort.
The familiar Skype calling sound filled the room, but was soon replaced by the sound of Mary Cooper's voice.
"George!" she exclaimed. "Whatcha doin' callin' from Shelly's computer?"
George's lips quirked in a half-smile. "Howdy to you too, momma. Rodeo was in Pasadena this weekend so I figured I'd come say hey to little Shelly here and get you on Skype. Shelly, say hey to momma."
Sheldon quickly wiped the glare off his face as George turned the computer to face him. "Hello momma. Junior's livin' in sin with Penny while he's in town." He took a sip of his tea to mask the slight facial tic and to try and quell the sudden queasiness he felt at his own words. It was a good thing he'd chosen chamomile tea, because suddenly he needed its soothing quality.
"George Cooper Junior, turn this computer so I can see you." George scowled at his little brother's dirty tactic and did as his mother said.
Before Mary could say anything else, however, George cut her off. "Momma, I'm a grown man and Penny's a grown woman."
Mary sniffed. "I still don't approve. Y'all're bein' responsible, though?"
George sighed. "Yes, momma. No grandbabies til marriage." She nodded and changed the subject.
"How was the rodeo?"
"Good, I got in the top ten percent. They really wanna get me on the bull, but I keep tellin' 'em no."
"That's my boy. You stay safe, baby. Shelly, you're both grown men. No one likes a tattler."
"Yes, momma," he said from the kitchen. He even managed not to pout.
"I'd better get," she said. "Church is havin' a potluck tonight after services. Both of ya need to call me more. Love yuns."
"Love you too, momma," they both chorused before the video dropped.
George set the laptop back on the coffee table. "Boy, Shelly, you went straight for the low blow there." Momma never liked her babies having premarital sex, so they tried to keep it out of their conversations, but if one sibling wanted to get one up on the other they'd bring it up. Of course, that never worked with Sheldon.
"No, Junior," he emphasized the nickname as a reminder of their truce. "I went for the blow that would get her focus off of me and back onto you in the quickest way possible."
Sheldon checked the time and turned to wash his mug. "Well, George, some of us have to work in the morning. I trust you have a hotel room?"
George rose from the couch and replied, "I do, but seein' as it's still a reasonable hour, I think I might stay with Penny tonight." He noticed a slight twitch in his brother's face. "She's probably soakin' in the tub, but she mentioned you had an emergency key."
Sheldon cringed slightly, but nodded as he dried and put away his mug. "I do. However, as the name suggests, it is only to be used in emergencies." He fidgeted a little, then continued. "I might have used it once or twice in an unauthorized manner and have since been forbidden to use it for anything except life- or property-threatening situations."
George's eyebrows nearly disappeared. "You used her emergency key? What for?"
"If you've seen her apartment then you know she is the worst housekeeper in this, or any other, universe."
"So you broke in to clean?"
"And she didn't appreciate that, I assume."
"She wouldn't have noticed if she hadn't woken up."
"Jesus, Sheldon, you broke into her apartment to clean at night?!"
"She left me no choice. And to this day she refuses to follow my organizational charts. I believe it's out of spite."
At that, George laughed. "Yeah, she sure is a hellcat."
"Indeed," he agreed. "Well, you know where the door is. Goodnight, George."
"So that's a no on the key?" he asked.
"I assure you, if Penny is still awake and willing to keep your company, she will answer the door." Something in his tone told George his brother might not want her to. Interesting.
A/N2: Honestly, this isn't what I wanted it to be, but I just couldn't figure out how to continue it, so I'm ending it here.