I am an author who mostly works with Harry Potter fanfiction, but there is this show pairing that has really grabbed my imagination and refused to let go until I did something about it. That show is The Big Bang Theory of course. What has really captured my attention is the strange symbiotic love/hate relationship between Sheldon and Penny. I have read all the fiction the net has to offer about this pairing and with few exceptions I felt portrayals of Sheldon were AU. I decided to write the implications and the fall out that would occur if these two did manage to get it together. I'm not extremely comfortable with Penny's POV, but I tried to be true to what I think her thought processes mightt be. I will try to post a chapter a week if I can, I don't foresee more than six at the moment. I hope you enjoy it.
The Big Bang Theory
The Reverse Pygmalion Paradox
Penny awoke in the half-light that was coming from her bathroom door cracked with the light on within. She always did that when she had a man over for the first time.
She stretched feeling the satisfying sensation of a night enjoyed. She could not quite remember whom it was she had entertained, but she heard some soft breathing behind her. Something was nagging in the back of her mind, some important fact was screaming for attention, but it would not make itself known clearly. She had a lot to drink the night before; her muddled brain was a familiar condition these days.
She was not going to occupy this apartment much longer after all. It had been a tough year and a half, most of her dreams had crumbled and she was ready to head back to Omaha with her tail between her legs. She felt the familiar wave of defeat that had become an accustomed part of her life. She now realized the only reason she had stayed in California as long as she had, was the neighbors. Leonard was sweet, he was at times the best friend she had ever had, and when he was not mooning over her and looking for ways to get, further into her life he was one of the few bright spots in Pasadena for her. Wolowitz and Raj came with the package and they had their moments, but surprisingly the one she would miss the most was that tall geeky bastard Sheldon.
No one had ever challenged her as he had. She considered it a gantlet thrown down just to remain friends with him. He was neurotic, offensive, compulsive and made her want to throttle him while simultaneously causing her to wish he could relax his defenses long enough to give him a hug. (Which he could use the practice if Christmas was any indication?) When she had made the announcement to the guys two nights ago, Leonard had been devastated, Raj looked mournful and had whimpered good bye to her. (It was sweet in a pitiful Raj sort of way.) Wolowitz had made the comment that she had just a few more days to ride the H-train and go kosher, how about it. She saw him earlier yesterday and the cotton swabs packing in his nose looked smaller, he would be able to breathe normally by the end of the week.
Sheldon was the one that really disturbed her, as usual. He almost acted as if he cared!
He took the announcement in stride at first; it was Halo night after all. Soon after, when the present round was completed in the game, he suddenly launched into a diatribe about famous scientists and their improvements to the world after years of failure, the consequences to modern society if they had given up. He detailed in eye-rolling intricate detail the myriad ways he had observed that Penny had retreated from challenges in the past. Most maddeningly, he with a familiar smugness remarked that she was most likely running out on their battle of wills before she had to admit defeat. That caused her to give him the "Junior Rodeo" look of doom that he was obviously asking for. She grabbed the controller from Raj, promptly reducing Sheldon's character into a rain of body parts and blood seven straight rounds while he fumed and shot her his best super villain glare.
She blew him a kiss and said "See ya later, sweetie."
He snorted, "Obviously, not too much later."
Leonard followed her home, and was passively encouraging, as always, unable to express disagreement with a woman. It was sweet but she told him about her lack of call-backs for even lousy commercials, and of the offers she was getting to do porn, (not counting the ones from Wolowitz) and how she was not sure she would keep turning down the money those sleazy producers offered in favor of the measly tips at The Cheesecake Factory forever. He nodded agreement in that Leonard way; his shoulders slumped and looked like a puppy lost in the rain, wishing her happiness and asking her to come over for Thai night one last time, on him. From the look of Leonard, she was certain that Sheldon going to have to adjust to a kitten in the apartment, and she sincerely hoped he was allergic!
She thought that uncomfortable lecture she received in the apartment across the hall would be the last battle with Ichabod for the night at least, but as she was looking in the cabinet for some rum to drink while she packed, there came the dreaded three-knock pattern at the door, with her name called interspersed. She knew his relentless pecking would continue until she gave in, but in a way, she was going to miss that as well.
She grabbed the door and yanked it open, "What?" She demanded giving him the "you put my laundry on the telephone wire" glower. He seemed unaffected, and oblivious. He fidgeted a bit more than usual as he asked her in his normal adolescent self-important voice if she needed a packing diagram to assist her in her endeavor.
"I, from my re-arrangement of your apartment, know what you currently possess and I would be willing to assemble a schematic to aid you in this task."
It showed her state of mind that she almost accepted it, but instead she gave him the irritated look she normally reserved for inappropriate discussion of menstrual cycles and shut the door in his face with a satisfying thunk. In an improvement of her fortunes, he had gone away with no further comment.
She felt a hand near her head on her pillow, and she reached up and touched it. It was long and slender, with elegant fingers. Fingers of someone she could imagine playing piano, or writing on a white board with fastidious detail. Where did that thought come from? She mused.
She turned enough to trace that arm back to the bare shoulder realizing that her suitor was lanky, and built like a praying mantis. Huh?
Something was still yammering to her from deep inside her mind. She traced the arm to a bare chest. There was this patch of hair right there between the pectorals that stirred a memory. "No, counter clockwise or my chest hair mats," said a nasally congested voice in her memories.
Terror struck her heart. Her eyes strayed up to the peaceful face still deep in sleep...
She was not sure how she had made it out of the bed without waking him, into her bathrobe and across the hall, but there she was with Leonard and Sheldon's spare key jiggling as she tried to fit it into the lock. She finally slid it home and got the door open.
Leonard must have been worried about his apartment mate not coming home (it was Sheldon after all what could he be doing at this time of night?) because he came out of his bedroom almost as soon as she cleared the door. Dr. Stephanie followed him out with a mildly irritated look. Penny could sympathize. Here she was enjoying a night over with her boyfriend and the disheveled looking blond from next door just used her own key to get into his apartment at (oh my god!) 4:15 in the morning!
"Penny?" Leonard asked adjusting his glasses and running a hand through his mussed curls, "what's wrong, you look like you've seen a ghost!"
"I..." Penny tried to start, it sounded like a squeak, and then she felt faint.
She had no memory of fainting. The very next thing she could recall was of waking up on the couch. Her head was on a Pillow in Sheldon's spot while her feet were elevated on the other end (Stephanie's doing most likely) and her forehead had a damp cloth on it. The last time she had slept on that couch, Leonard had informed her, Sheldon had almost sat on her head in his dismay. She let a giggle snort, and then curled on her side in misery. Maybe it was in the pillow or the cushions but she smelled Old Spice and disinfectant soap, she began to cry.
Stephanie came into her line of sight. "Oh honey, are you okay. Do you feel cold?" she asked kindly. Penny managed to nod. Stephanie called out to Leonard, "Leonard, I need a blanket, I think she's in shock." She heard him walk off on his errand. Checking for Leonard's location, Stephanie bent down and looked at her in the eyes. "Does this have to do with where Sheldon disappeared to?" Penny responded to the sympathy she saw in her eyes, she managed to nod. Stephanie let out a sigh, "Oh honey, things have gone south have they not?"
Penny buried her face in the pillow and more tears slipped out. "How did you know?" she squeaked.
Stephanie had a wry smile, "You're wearing his Flash t-shirt, girl."
Penny glanced down at the only item of clothing she had on under her robe over her bra and panties. It was an impossibly long red t-shirt with a white circle crossed with a lightning bolt ad a jaunty angle. That confirmed it.
Stephanie was shaking her head ruefully. "How much did you have to drink?"
"A little?" Penny explained weakly.
Stephanie mulled that over. "I can't imagine there is that much alcohol in Pasadena." They both exchanged a look and then had to giggle.
"What's so funny?" Leonard said as he came into view with a comforter, in his I'm-sure-this-can- be-resolved-if-we-all-remain-calm voice. Stephanie glanced up as he handed her the dark blue down comforter, Penny accepted it gratefully and wrapped it around her shoulders . Leonard must have caught sight of the shirt she was wearing, because he looked like someone ran over his beloved pet with an eighteen-wheeler then backed up.
"Oh dear god!" he declared in absolute shock, if the chair had not been directly behind him he would have wound up in the floor.
"This is not quantifiable," he mused. Stephanie exchanged a look with Penny. She sighed and unwrapped herself, Stephanie took it and draped around Leonard's shoulders instead. "How...," he trailed off, "What...Sheldon?"
Penny felt for Leonard. Stephanie was talking to him in low tones while she sat in Sheldon's place trying to recall her night in as much detail as her addled brain would allow.
"Penny?" Leonard called out. She glanced over at his face; he was white as a sheet. "You wanna catch us up?"
She sighed, and tried to begin. "Nothing much, I went out with some of my girls dancing tonight, kind of a last hurrah," she started, "and somehow wound up with a tall asexual double PhD with an IQ not measurable by standardized testing in my bed." She finished with a giggle which she was sure was going to crawl into hysteria if she kept going, so she stifled it.
Leonard gave her the shy smile and scrunched his face up as he did when he was trying to remain calm, "could you be a little more specific?"
Penny started again, "I got a call on my cell from The Cheesecake Factory bar that, if I didn't come and get my neighbor, the lady who they were actually paying to entertain at the piano was going to walk out. If that happened Sheldon was going to need a new place to get his Tuesday hamburger. Evidently, Sheldon came in looking for me, and had forgotten to inform the bartender his Cuba Libras were supposed to be virgin, so he was drunk and performing the music from West Side Story. I think I heard him singing America in the background."
Leonard looked confused, "He hates West Side Story, calls it derivative and vaguely stereotypic to Latinos." "Focus Leonard, "Stephanie admonished. "Oh sorry," he said quickly waving for Penny to continue.
Penny sighed as she tried to recall through the haze. "I said goodbye to my girlfriends, and by the time I got there he actually had a full tip jar." She smiled, she did not know why, but the memory of Sheldon belting Maria while the paid entertainer fumed and gestured to the manager just made her feel affectionate towards the big goof. She realized she had let her mind wander. "Sorry, still a bit fuzzy. I talked him into coming with, so I could drive him home. When we got to the apartment he couldn't find his key."
Leonard looked incredulous, "Sheldon Cooper couldn't find his key? I'd be surprised if he didn't have a spare taped to the outside of his underwear."
Stephanie hissed, "Image I did not need Leonard." Leonard looked sheepish.
Penny shrugged, "I don't know about that. I was going to let him sleep it off on my couch until you got home, he was pretty out of it by that point, I think he was telling me about the history of the single edged tumble-lock key when I drank my first screwdriver to unwind. Next thing I know, I'm waking up beside him, in my bed, with no idea how that happened."
Stephanie looked concerned. "I think there is an issue here we haven't discussed."
Leonard looked like he was still trying to grasp Sheldon in any bed but his own. He shook his head as to remove a stray thought and asked, "What?"
Stephanie pursed her lips for a moment as if thinking of a tactful way of saying what she had to say. "Sheldon is certifiably nuts," she remarked.
Penny rolled her eyes, "Well, yeah."
Stephanie shook her head, "I over simplified, let me restate. Sheldon has, according one of the charts he pestered me to read, OCD, ASD, germaphobia, and he's definitely a hypochondriac, not to mention someone who is, or was, a virgin who can't stand to be touched." She concluded, "And he's about to wake up in a strange bed."
Penny felt herself tearing up, "He's going to be scarred for life I know it, and it's all my fault."
While Stephanie moved over to the couch and comforted her, Leonard sat in the chair uncomfortably. Penny was hoping this was not one of his jealous pouting sessions. They needed the genius to help them.
He suddenly smiled "What if we move him from the bed to Penny's couch, with his ego he'll just create his own memory."
Penny stared between the two as they shared a knowing look. "Excuse me?" she demanded. Leonard turned to her, "your brain has several types of memory, but memory is fluid so if before a pattern is moved out of short term and imprinted permanently you are moved out of the environment where it was created, there's a chance that the pathway will reset, if he's actually human, that is."
Penny gaped at him, "What?"
Stephanie rolled her eyes at Leonard for over complicating things, "He's basically saying if Sheldon wakes up on your couch, then he'll convince himself that's where he slept. Hopefully it will be less traumatic." Penny threw a pillow and nailed Leonard, "Why didn't you just say that the first time."
He looked embarrassed. "Sorry. I'm not sure we'll be able to move him without waking him up." Stephanie turned to Penny, "Was he totally smashed last night?" Penny nodded, "Oh yeah." Stephanie nodded. "He'll stay asleep, alcohol is still used for anesthesia, with his low tolerance it will do in a pinch."
They went over to Penny's apartment; Stephanie leaned over as Leonard went into her bedroom as quiet as possible. "You're still wearing Sheldon's shirt."
Penny smiled grateful for the reminder, quickly pulling it off and wrapping her robe back around her before Leonard came back. Leonard looked amused as he got within whispering distance. "He's still got pajama bottoms on, I forgot he keeps a spare pair in his satchel just in case."
Penny collapsed on her couch in relief. "Nothing happened then." Leonard looked a little relieved himself, "Maybe not. We won't know until he wakes up later."
They helped Leonard get Sheldon's shirt back on, no easy task as every sound he made caused them to freeze. The finally got it over his head and in place. Penny never realized that Sheldon had muscle definition; she remembered Raj could not beat him at arm wrestling when they played that weird game with the computers at The Factory that time, but she just assumed that was more a case of Raj being weak. Sheldon was not body builder bulky like some men she had been with, but he was nicely built. If only he was less, well Sheldon. As it happened, between Stephanie's experience in moving patients around, and Penny's yoga and farm girl muscle, the two women got Sheldon to the couch, with Leonard in more of a supervisory position. Stephanie winked at Penny and nodded in Leonard's direction, "Asparagus, "she murmured. Penny stifled a giggle while Leonard glared at them.
Stephanie looked suddenly grave. "You can't be here when he wakes up honey. Just write him a note saying you let him sleep, you had some errands to run. If he wakes up and sees you, the memory might come back." Penny sighed, and nodded. After they left, she made a quick run to her bedroom and changed into a pink top and a pair of white shorts, she paused and wrote a little post-it note.
You had a little too much to drink last night sweetie, so I let you sleep.
She thought about what she should say. She glanced over at Sheldon still sleeping soundly; silently thanking God that he had a nerd's constitution for alcohol. He looked so peaceful just resting. A wave of shame hit her. If she had been his first, she had stolen something from him. Something precious and irreplaceable, even though they argued all the time, and there were times she wanted to kill him, she admired him in a way, and a wave of affection took her breath. He was just a tall, annoying, fact spouting kid; he did not deserve to lose his virginity to a blond slut who got more phone numbers than call backs from directors. He deserved better than her, if something had happened last night, she was not sure she could forgive herself. She made a silent vow to God. Please God, let him still be a virgin, I'll stop sleeping around and drinking, I promise!
She made a decision. Lincoln, Nebraska was going to have to wait; she could not leave until she was sure that Sheldon was going to be okay. If that took a couple of weeks or months, she would stay at least that long. It was called taking responsibility. She bent back to her note, composing a lie in her head.
I'll see you later today, I'm going to be around a little while longer because the Landlord told me they would take me to court if I break the lease, and I can't afford that right now. I had an audition this morning, and I'm going to take an evening shift at The Factory, so I should be there when you come in with the guys for your usual Tuesday burger. Feel free to stay in my apartment as long as you need to. If you rearrange anything, I will break your fingers.
She placed the note where he would see it when he woke up. She on an impulse crossed and bent down kissing him on the forehead. "Be okay sweety, please?" she said softly. She crossed to the door and left the apartment pulling it gently shut behind her.
Will Sheldon be okay? How will Penny handle it if he is not?