The Plasma Implosion Experiment
Title: The Plasma Implosion Experiment
Spoilers: None specific
Rating: PG-13 for implications
Word Count: 1283
Disclaimer: The Big Bang Theory is property of Warner Brothers and CBS; no challenge is intended or financial gain made.
Summary: Of all the people to curl up to during a storm, why did she have to pick him?
A/N: Another little fic written in response to a prompt on the Sheldon_Penny kink meme. Again, the prompt expects something a bit more raunchy, but I suspect I'd be spectacularly inept at writing it. So I just took it as a short prompt instead; hope it works.
SLEEP MODE – NREM N2 – 0:14:27.3
K-complex detected (102µV 0.3s)
Theta 14%, Spindles 15.2Hz 83%
Theta 8%, Spindles 14.0Hz 88%
K-complex detected (104µV 0.7s)
Theta 9%, Spindles 13.3Hz 89%
_Preparing transition to NREM N3
__Increase Delta to 4%, set 3.6Hz for phase-in
K-complex detected (103µV 0.4s)
Caution: Unusual K-complex density, possible exterior threat.
_Postpone NREM N3 transition, prepare phase-up to NREM N1
K-complex detected (102µV 0.6s)
K-complex detected (105µV 0.7s)
K-complex detected (107µV 0.9s)
ALERT: HIGH K-COMPLEX DENSITY, AUDITORY-INDUCED.
DSCT REPORTS PROXIMATE UNIDENTIFIED PRESENCE
__INITIATE EMERGENCY AWAKENING PROCEDURE
I sat up in bed, eyes wide open, scanning for the unknown and doubtless malevolent presence that had woken me.
"Sheldon, it's just me!" A flash of lightning from outside illuminated her; there, crouched on the floor beside my bed, just reaching out to shake me awake, was Penny.
"Penny? You're in my bedroom."
"Yeah, I know, but–"
"You can't be in my bedroom."
"There's a storm out there." She did look frightened, not that I noticed, of course.
"I thought I was very clear on the non-precendential nature of our memory stick arrangement."
She clamped her hand over my mouth. I would have explained to her the unsanitary nature of the gesture, but her irrational fears got in the way of her education.
"Sheldon, there's thunder."
I looked at her. Why would a simple physical phenomenon bother her? "The house has circuit breakers."
"Yeah, Sheldon, I kinda don't do thunder."
"That's not really surprising, given that you're not one of the ancient deities traditionally –"
"SHELDON!" she hissed, keeping her voice low. "Dammit, Sheldon, can you for once in your life just be nice without trying to be educational? I'm scared of storms, okay? That's all."
"Oh. Well, what do you want me to do? I only have qualifications in real sciences, I'm really not certified to provide psychothera..."
"Just... can I sleep in here tonight?"
"I fail to see how that would mitigate the thunderstorm."
She sighed, and sat down on the edge of the bed. I don't think she realised how it mangled the equilibrium of the mattress, but on the other hand it seemed unwise to mention that.
"It just helps to be near someone, okay? Can I just curl up next to you?"
"You're still in my bedroom."
I was about to suggest requesting sanctuary with Leonard, but it occurred to me that she may have approached me to avoid the complications that would inevitably ensue if she were to share a bed with him. And she did seem genuinely distressed. So it was really just good manners.
"Oh, very well." I moved slightly to my left, choking down the discomfort that came from being improperly aligned, and smoothed down the blanket for her. She lay down, smiled at me – Gratefully? Or was it sarcasm? – and patted my shoulder. I cringed away from her touch.
"You're welcome." I shuffled around, trying to attain a suitably balanced posture; being out of my usual indentation cause a minor but disconcerting imbalance. "Now sleep."
She smiled, and that, I thought, was that. I was just drifting into N1 NREM sleep when I realised that she was shivering.
"Penny," I remarked, "you're shivering."
"Well, I'm kinda above the blanket here."
"Oh yes." She had an odd look on her face, but perhaps that was normal for someone afraid of storms. "Well, that explains that."
I resumed my attempt at sleep, but she spoke again.
"It looks warm under the blanket."
"Sheldon, can I get under the blanket with you? It's cold."
I considered this. She was already in my bedroom. It would be a major concession. On the other hand, exposure to the cold night air in her current state of dress could have health risks.
"Oh, very well. Do I need to explain once again the concept of not creating a permanent easement?"
"No, Sheldon, I remember. Geez." She slunk in under the blanket next to me. "No continuing right of access, I get the idea. Just for tonight." She winked at me. "Unless you say otherwise."
She really was not helping. "Was that sarcasm?"
There was an odd look in her eyes, a mixture of... trepidation, perhaps, and teasing. Humans. So complicated.
"Do you want it to be?"
Never mind. It was far too late to debate these semantic points.
"Good night, Penny."
I tried to assume my usual posture, but with her under the covers the bed was too narrow to accommodate it. I rolled onto my side, facing away from her, and tried for the third time that night to go to sleep.
It almost worked.
Perhaps she was asleep, perhaps she wasn't; I had no way of telling. But within minutes, I felt her behind me, curling against my back and wrapping an arm over me.
I had a two options. I could move her away, which if she was asleep would wake her and precipitate a further lengthy conversation. Or I could let her sleep which, though unaccustomed, would mean no more talking.
(And, a small part of my brain added, it wasn't an entirely unpleasant sensation. I issued my brain half a strike for taking the wrong side.)
Then the complications arose.
The hand she had wrapped around me started moving over my chest... and then down.
And further down.
This was new. My eyes shot open, and I turned my head to face her.
She was awake, and smiling nervously.
"Hi," she breathed.
"Is this –" my breath hitched with one particularly novel motion "– a common method for alleviating ceraunophobia?"
She looked about as shy as I'd ever seen her.
"If you mean the storm thing, I think it... y'know, really could be." She held my gaze, her face for once empty of artifice. "Do you want me to stop?"
I uncrossed my eyes with not too much difficulty and gulped. "I suppose if you find it helpful... I could let you continue. For, uh, now." I forced my mind back to the thunder. "There's really nothing to fear from storms..."
"Tell me," she breathed.
"Water and ice particles move against each other so a buildup of electricity forms in the... uh... thing..."
"My apologies, yes, cloud..." I had little doubt that my cheeks were by now bright red, though a glance at the room's ambient light level suggested that it would be insufficient for Penny to see the red frequencies. "You have me somewhat distracted..."
"Buildup of electricity, things moving against each other..."
I took a number of deep breaths, trying to detach my cognitive processes from... well, things.
"And... and the charge in the cloud... induces opposite... in the ground... forms a stepped leader..."
"What about the thunder?"
"Ionised air... the electricity superheats the plasma channel... about 28,000 degrees and... it implodes and causes a pressure wave... that's what you hear..."
"So it's all, uh, heat and pressure, then?" she asked, a curious look in her eyes.
I must admit I had some trouble keeping my voice steady.
"At its most... Are you sure what you're doing is hygienic? ...basic, yes."
"Heat and pressure," she mused, a smirk playing across her lips. (And very pleasant they looked too, that treacherous part of my brain interjected, for which it got another half strike.) "Who'd have thunk?"
Then, without any warning, she ducked under the blanket.
Things got rather... fuzzy after that.
Penny lay back next to the sleeping Sheldon, gazing lazily out the window at the flashing lightning, enjoying the heavy patter of the rain against the window, and clasped her hands behind her head with a satisfied smile on her face. She'd always liked thunderstorms.