When the pair left Penny's hotel room once more, they found Leonard pacing in front of the doorway in agitation, muttering under his breath. As Sheldon shut the door behind him, Leonard glanced up, his expression souring. "This still doesn't make sense," he whined. "Even if you guys were dating for three months, you couldn't possibly think that's enough time to go and get married."
Penny looked up at Sheldon, remembering his promise to take the reigns on their fabricated story. He nodded down at her in understanding, then directed his attention to Leonard. "You're right," he acknowledged. "Three months is not adequate at all." When Leonard blinked in surprise, clearly startled by Sheldon's agreement, the taller scientist continued, "Neither one of us planned for this to happen. The wedding was, at least, the result of our inebriation. However," he rushed on, as Leonard opened his mouth to speak, "We intend to work this out to the best of our abilities."
Leonard gaped at his friend. "So, what, you're going to stay married after dating for three months? Really?"
"Really," Penny interjected, her eyes narrowing. "Not everything good that happens is planned, you know." Inwardly, she marveled at the irony of her statement; everything that had happened that day so far was unplanned, and she was still trying to work out how much of it she really considered to be 'good'.
Leonard shook his head in wonder. "This is really just unbelievable, you know that?"
"It doesn't seem that there's anything we can do to further convince you," Sheldon remarked dryly. "You will have to come to terms with this on your own."
Leonard opened and closed his mouth several times before he settled on a response. "What are you going to tell Howard and Raj?"
Sheldon paused, clearly taken aback by the question. "I suppose," he answered carefully after several moments of deliberation, "that we'll tell them the same thing we told you. We can hardly keep our marriage a secret from them." Penny glanced up at him in alarm, but he shook his head, almost imperceptibly, and she realized that they didn't really have a choice. There was no way they could just tell Leonard they were married and then try to keep the who thing secret from the other guys, and she definitely didn't trust them with the truth.
Leonard choked on a laugh. "How do you think they'll take the news?"
"Hopefully better than you," Penny snapped in irritation. "Maybe they'll actually act like good friends." Leonard stiffened, and Penny wondered if perhaps she'd been too hard on him. Why was she getting so worked up over his cynicism? The whole thing was a lie, after all. Still, for whatever reasons lurked in her subconscious, Penny couldn't help but glare at her neighbor, wishing he would be a little more understanding.
Leonard, however, did not seem to have any intention of being understanding. "Fine. You're right. I'm not being supportive. But you know what? I don't think that good friends would go out and get married behind each others' backs!" With that parting shot, the curly-haired scientist stormed away, leaving Penny and Sheldon staring after him in shock.
Penny sighed and turned to look up at Sheldon. "That could have gone better," she observed dryly.
"Agreed," Sheldon replied. "I suggest we go and look for Raj and Howard. If I know Leonard at all, he's probably gone off to tell them himself in an attempt to embitter them towards us as a form of petty retaliation, a ploy which I fear may prove successful unless we talk to them first."
Penny shook his head. "Leonard already knows where they are, so there's no way we'll get to them first. We should stay away from them for a while and give them a chance to get over the shock."
Sheldon paused, apparently considering the proposal, before nodding. "You're right. They'll probably be more receptive to our explanations after they've had a chance to digest the news."
Penny slipped her hand into Sheldon's, shaking her head in bemusement as he stiffened, and whispered confidentially, "Not to mention, I've had just about as much of this fake confessing as I can take." She winked up at Sheldon, who rolled his eyes in response.
"If we're avoiding Raj and Howard, what do you propose we do? We can't go back to the convention, or we risk encountering them again. By the way," he added, pausing to glare at Penny, "I will expect some form of compensation for what I'm missing at the convention."
"You would," Penny quipped. Then, a wicked ideas came into her head and she looked up at Sheldon, her eyes gleaming. "Maybe we should just go back into my room and have some more sex," she decided.
Sheldon froze, his eyes bugging out. "I beg your pardon?" he squeaked, looking mildly panicked.
Penny gazed up at him innocently. "We could kill two birds with one stone. It'll keep us busy and away from the convention, and compensate you for missing it."
His mouth opened and closed several times, but no sound came out. Just when it looked like he was about to pass out from shock, however, Penny erupted into a fit of laughter. "Oh man, you should have seen the look on your face! I thought you were gonna faint!" Wild with giggles, she buried her face in Sheldon's shirt, her whole body shaking with laughter.
Sheldon pushed her away from himself sharply. "That wasn't funny!" he hissed, startling the blonde out of her amusement. "Why do you derive so much enjoyment from making others uncomfortable?" he demanded hotly, blue eyes smoldering with anger.
Penny blinked, taken completely aback. "I—"
"You might be able to use other men's libido against them, but not me," he continued shrilly, voice rising by nearly an octave as he seethed. "Maybe you should have married Leonard instead. At least he likes being humiliated by you!"
Penny recoiled as though she'd been slapped, and Sheldon stormed off to his own room, only a few doors down. She watched numbly as he jammed his room card into the card reader, slamming the door shut behind him after he entered. The blonde squeezed her eyes shut, trying to keep tears from falling free as she entered her own room, guilt gnawing furiously at her. Why did I do that? she wondered, throwing herself down on the bed. Why do I sabotage every good relationship I'm in? She wept into her pillow, intending to drown herself in self-pity, until the full impact of her thought hit her, and she sat up, sobs abating into quiet sniffles as she turned over her own words in her head.
"Relationship?" she quietly wondered aloud. "Good relationship?" Penny picked up the pillow, hugging it to her chest as she mulled over this disturbing thought. I just got caught up in pretending, she decided after a while. It doesn't mean anything. She moved to put the pillow back, halting as her eyes fell upon the space beneath it. There, lying in a rumpled heap, was the blue long-sleeved shirt that Sheldon had worn the day before. He didn't find it because it was under the pillow, she realized, picking the article of clothing up and examining it with detached curiosity. I should return it.
Making up her mind, Penny stood up and crossed the room. She was going to give Sheldon's shirt back to him and apologize. No fighting, she told herself sternly as she approached Sheldon's room. No deflecting. Just take the blame like a mature adult. She strode to the door confidently, but faltered as she raised her hand to knock. What if he didn't accept the apology? What if he was still angry? What if he decided to abandon the whole fake marriage and tell everyone that it was one big sham to get Leonard to leave her alone? Penny cringed, but forcefully pushed back the wave of self-pity that washed over her. The most she could do was apologize – after that, it was up to Sheldon. Taking in a deep breath to steady herself, Penny rapped sharply on the door.
A few seconds later, the door opened – just a few inches, enough to reveal a narrowed blue eye glaring down at her. "Go away," Sheldon ordered coldly. "I have no wish to be mocked further." He began to shut the door and, panicking, Penny shoved her hand in the space before it closed. There was a brief moment as Penny's eyes widened, before she let out a piercing howl, and Sheldon whipped the door open, staring in disbelief.
"Why did you do that?" he demanded, eyes flooding with panic. "Are you okay!?"
Penny bit her lip in a vain attempt to keep pain-inspired curses from spilling from her mouth as tears spilled down her face. "I didn't want you to close the door on me," she gasped between expletives, squeezing her eyes shut.
"But that's exactly what happened!" Sheldon protested, pulling Penny into his room and steering the pain-addled woman to the bed.
"Not what I meant," Penny grunted through gritted teeth. She turned to look up at Sheldon, his face blurred by the tears in her eyes.
"Never mind that," Sheldon said, shaking his head. "Is your hand broken?"
Penny swallowed hard and flexed her fingers, wincing as she did so. "I don't think so." A nasty red welt was beginning to swell up across her hand, but even so, the throbbing pain was beginning to subside slightly. "It just hurts a lot."
Sheldon gently took her injured hand in his, grasping it by the wrist to avoid hurting her. "It doesn't appear broken," he agreed softly after a moment. "I'll get the first aid kit."
"First aid kit?" Penny echoed as he stood, crossing the room and pulling his suitcase out from the closet.
"Of course," Sheldon replied, kneeling in front of the suitcase as he rifled through its contents. "Surely you don't travel without one, do you?" He pulled a blue plastic box out and popped it open.
Penny laughed softly, finding that Sheldon's demeanor helped to distract her from the pain. A moment later Sheldon returned to the bed and sat down beside her, holding a pill bottle and an elastic bandage.
"Here," he said, holding out the bottle. "It's Ibuprofen. The bottle recommends two, but doctors often prescribe quadruple strength pills, so you shouldn't be at risk taking four." Penny took the bottle after a moment, staring at Sheldon in wonder as she spilled four tablets into her hand. Why was he being so nice to her? Didn't he remember how furious he'd been only five minutes ago? "Do you need water for those?" Sheldon asked. Penny shook her head after a moment, popping the pills into her mouth and swallowing them dry.
"You shouldn't do that," he rebuked gently. "You could choke." Before Penny could respond, he changed the subject. "Hold out your hand," he ordered. "I'll bandage it."
Penny stared at him before gathering her wits together and doing as she was told. She watched as he carefully wrapped the bandage around her injury, noting with awe that there wasn't even so much as an eye twitch to indicate his previous anger. "Why are you doing this?" she asked quietly. "Aren't you mad at me?"
Sheldon did not look up to answer the question. "Whether I'm angry or not, I can't ignore your injury." He finished wrapping her hand and met her gaze evenly. "How do you feel?"
"Better," Penny responded. "Thank you."
"Good." Sheldon stood up and folded his arms. "Now, what was so important that you risked breaking your hand for it?"
Penny flushed and held out the shirt which she realized she had been clutching to her chest until then. "Here," she mumbled. "This is yours."
Sheldon stared at her, stupefied. "You injured your hand just to return my shirt?"
Her blush grew deeper. "I didn't mean to get hurt," she amended angrily, looking anywhere but at Sheldon. Then, remembering her self-promise, she sighed and continued in a subdued tone, "I also wanted to apologize for what I said."
There was a long stretch of silence before Sheldon sat down beside her again. "Understood," he stated simply.
Penny looked up at him expectantly. "That's it? You forgive me?"
Sheldon nodded. "Yes. And I apologize for shutting the door on your hand, even if it was your own fault."
Penny laughed and shook her head. Leave it to Sheldon. Leaning her head against his shoulder, Penny looked up at the physicist. "You're a good guy," she said after a moment. "Thank you."
The corners of his mouth quirked slightly upwards as he met her eyes. "What shall we do now? And don't suggest anything you don't mean," he added quickly.
Penny laughed and grinned up at him. "Don't worry," she assured him. "I wasn't going to."