Viva Las Vegas:
A Shipper's Take on "The Vegas Renormalization"
(before it ever airs)
"Penny?" the knock began. She had been sitting on her couch, not watching television (because she hadn't paid her bill, who are you to judge her?) and wondering if she should get shit faced tonight or not. She waited for him to finish his knock, not out of any concern for his OCD or other wackadoodle problems, but because she had to steady herself before speaking to him. You couldn't just open the door when Sheldon knocked, you had to be mentally prepared for whatever new brand of crazy he had come to share. She had learned this the hard way and wondered sometimes if he had a special knock for her because he knew she needed that time.
"Door's open!" she yelled, grabbing another stale Twizzler from bag. Sheldon had bought her some chip clips but she had already lost three of them and had the fourth one she was using to keep her robe closed until she could find the terry cloth belt that she was sure was under her bed.
"Penny! You shouldn't leave your door unlocked. It is not safe."
"Sheldon," she said, the patience she had stored up for him already getting thin. "What do you need?"
"I locked myself out of my apartment." The irony of this in conjunction with his little diatribe on safety was not lost on her. She gave him a dirty, condescending look while he shuffled uncomfortably next to a pile of dirty clothes.
"Yes, well, this is why we exchanged keys. It is a theoretically safety net that, should one of us lock ourselves out, the other has the ability to let us in."
"Why is it theoretical?"
"We haven't proven it yet. So far, you've only used our key to let yourself into my room for late at night symposiums on Age of Conan." It was his turn to give her a condescending look. She stuck her tongue out at him, half-playfully, half-pissed. "If you are done with your childish displays?" She pursed her lips with her signature attitude. "The key, then, please."
"Howard, Raj, and Leonard left about an hour ago to go to Las Vegas. Leonard drove his car, ergo, he has his key." She sighed and relented, getting up from the couch and starting to dig through the Cosmo magazines and dirty knee socks on her side table. She moved over to the kitchen island, dumping a coffee mug filled with bent paper clips and gum wrappers. She could hear Sheldon shuffling with greater intensity, almost feeling the impatience radiating across her back. She worried her bottom lip quite forcefully. She so did not lose their key. She didn't. It was just...playing hide and seek. Sheldon cleared his throat. Oh, damn. "Problem?"
"NO!" she said, squeaked. He pursed his lips in a sort of macabre imitation of her own attitude. "Alright, fine. I just...haven't found it yet."
"Oh, Penny, Penny, Penny. This is why I left you organizational charts." He started to fold the clothes next to his feet.
"What are you doing?"
"We're going to clean this entire apartment."
"Oh, no. I'm still pissed about last time."
"And understandably. Leonard explained it to me in full. As good as my intentions were, it was inappropriate to enter your apartment and touch your things without permission. Leonard quoted my mother, who had misquoted the Bible in saying, 'Only do what you want to be done.' As I would be uncomfortable with you having unsupervised access to my things, I must assume you would be uncomfortable with mine."
"Aw, Sheldon, that's very nice. Thank you." He nodded curtly once, in his precise manner before he drug her long unused laundry basket over and folded her filthy clothes.
"I'll do your laundry. Please start by gathering all the garbage and putting it in its receptacle."
~Four hours later~
"Sheldon," Penny whined, tired from the cleaning marathon, "we scrubbed the baseboards an hour ago. We sorted the recyclables, we checked my pockets, rearranged my bedroom! We organized my magazines by date, name, AND editor. The kitchen cupboards are organized, the food sorted by date, size, shelf life, FIBER CONTENT," she stopped here to shake her head. "That was more information than I ever needed to know about my breakfast cereal, Sheldon." He was twisting his hands together, glancing around nervously, knowing what was coming. "That key is gone, sweetie." She threw herself down on the (steam-cleaned) couch. She had to admit; it smelled wonderful and fresh in her apartment now. They even cleaned all the old cheetos out of the couch cushions.
"This can't be, Penny. I can't accept this."
"Well, you're going to have to, babe. That key took the midnight train to Georgia."
"The key is not a sentient object, Penny. It couldn't have gone anywhere on his own free will." She didn't even respond. Instead, she asked him what he planned to do.
"I do have a hotel nearby that I have researched. It is quite clean, no health infractions, the sheets are...tolerable."
"Did you bring your wallet?" He felt his back pocket.
"Oh, no." Penny threw her head back.
"You want to crash here?" she offered with a smile.
"You mean, sleep? Here?"
"Don't make it sound like walking the plank, Sheldon." She saw his lips part but she stopped him. "I swear to God, you start some history on piracy and you can sleep with Mrs. Vartebedian tonight." He seemed to understand the sarcasm (though, not well) and sat slowly done beside her on the couch.
"I suppose it wouldn't be unacceptable. You have shared our apartment for the night before, I suppose it wouldn't be impinging on you to ask for one night's refuge."
"There, it's settled."
"Oh, Penny, it is far from settled."
"Should-a seen that one coming," she deadpanned, her body going limp on the couch as he rattled off his list of wackadoodle needs.
"Where shall I sleep? How shall I bathe? What about brushing my teeth? I'll have to check my emails at some point. We are only lucky I do not work on Saturdays. I haven't even mentioned sleep clothing."
"I was waiting for that," she sighed, knowing this was only the start of his list. "Sheldon, don't worry about it. Let's just fill up the rest of the day and we can fight out the details tonight, huh?" He acquiesced, unhappily. "Did you at least bring your cell phone?"
"Who goes anywhere without their cell phone?"
"Penny, I was going across the hallway. I hardly deem that a trip that would necessitate a mobile phoning device."
"Yeah, but, who goes anywhere without a cell phone?" He made a tisking sound in his throat but she was quickly learning to cut him off at the pass. "How about some Age of Conan? You can play with Queen Penelope?"
"Penny, that's not an incentive for me to play. You merely want me to level you up again."
"So, I have selfish motives. You will level me up, won't you? You are the better player." She knew men. If nothing else, they loved knowing they were better at something that someone else. She was sure Sheldon could give her to complete psychological history of male power dynamics with an emphasis on sociological and anthropological ramifications or some other batshit insanity but she was trying to appeal to his baser notions.
"Of course I am! You merely show a rather surprising penchant for gaming. I have the technical skills required of an experienced and expert player." She patted him on the arm with feminine indulgence and smiled as he extended his hand for her laptop (now located on the small table Sheldon had set up as a desk for her on the far wall).
~Two Hours Later~
Penny had taken her laptop back from him. Actually, she ripped it from his hands and torn the headphones right off his ears. This battle was intense and she wanted to get her hands on it. Those Latvian rat bastards were going down. JinSen3454 could suck on this. Sheldon was leaning over her shoulder, one arm bracing him as he pointed to various commands and objects she would need. She was intense in this battle, shouting curses at the screen, ignoring Sheldon's bated breath on her neck. When she delivered the kill blow, went up the fourth level since they had started playing, and set JinSen3454 on his ass-kicked way, she turned quickly to Sheldon and put her hand up.
"High five!" she yelled jubilantly. He conceded, giving her a gentle slap and smiling.
"It was quite well-played, Queen Penelope. I must concede you have shown considerable growth since last we played together."
"Aw, thanks, Sheldon!" She closed her laptop as Sheldon seemed to become aware of their proximity and discreetly shifted over. She tried not to think of how close he had gotten to her, thinking instead of a celebratory measure. "Hey! Ice cream! My treat!"
"You wish to go out for ice cream?"
"No, Sheldon, I was informing you that ice cream is a particular favorite of mine. Yes, I want to go out for ice cream. Come on, Sheldor! Queen Penelope is offering you an audience."
"I suppose we could go to DeMarco's."
"You want to drive all the way out to DeMarco's? It's pretty far away, Sheldon."
"I'll pay for your gas when I regain access to my wallet. It is the only ice cream shop that uses fresh, properly pasteurized milk and all natural flavorings."
"No good deed goes unpunished," she sighed as she grabbed her keys from the small hooks Sheldon had hung for her by the door. "Let's go, Sheldor."
~A Forty Minute Drive Later~
"God, Sheldon, you are going to owe me so much gas money."
"It'll be worth it," he said with the child-like grin of his. She couldn't help but catch a little of his excitement. It was like the time he had taken the train all over again; he had this unreserved excitement radiating out from his creepy little smile all the way to the jittery hands; like a kid in a freaking candy store.
"Do you know what you are going to get?"
"One scoop of their semi-sweet Belgian chocolate crème."
"Dang, that sounds rich."
"That's why this is the best."
"I would have taken you for a plain vanilla bean kind of guy."
"Oh, yes, that is well enough for when I am forced to go to Dairy Queen or some other sub par institution but this is DeMarco's." She smiled with him as he placed his order, vowing to repay her for his ice cream but she ignored him as she looked at her forty options. She ended up with a scoop of English Toffee Fudge that was rich and creamy and she knew just why Sheldon loved this place. They sat a little window table with only two chairs and faced each other, barely talking for the first few bites of their wonderful ice cream.
"Penny," he started, in that voice that told Penny he was about to ruin her life a little, "we have to talk about this spontaneous slumber party." She let a bite of her ice cream melt slowly on her tongue as a balm for the long ass discussion she was trying to avoid.
"Sheldon, when we get home, please. Don't ruin DeMarco's," she said the name with the same reverence that Sheldon had and this seemed to appease him. They ate in silence, looking up every once and awhile send each other visual signs of just how good DeMarco's ice cream was.
~Forty Minutes Back Home~
"Alright, Sheldon. You wanted to talk about this."
"Yes," he moved quickly to sit in his chair before he started his laundry list of issues. God save her. "First of all, I have no clothes. Nothing to sleep in, nothing to wear tomorrow."
"Okay, how about this? You wear your undershirt to sleep in and I have some old basketball shorts. Will that do?"
"Someone else's clothes, Penny?"
"Hey, don't look disgusted. You washed them earlier today. You know they're clean."
"That is true," he didn't seem happy about it but wasn't going to fight the whole issue out. She assumed he had bigger fish to fry. "What about showering?"
"I have a shower, Sheldon. Do you think I'm some sort of uncivilized cave woman?"
"But it's not my shower," he exerted.
"I know, but you cleaned that too. Listen, you cleaned this whole joint today, Sheldon. Everything here is to your standards. Can you just leave it?" He pouted a little but didn't say anything. "Hey, you want to shower first?" He nodded and Penny grabbed him a perfectly pressed towel (yeah, bitch made her ironed the towels too) and sent him off on his way. He came back not to long after, the towel folded in his hands, wearing his undershirt and her basketball shorts.
"I am not at all happy in these basketball shorts, Penny. They are not my Saturday pajamas."
"Yeah, sorry about that," she blew him off, breezing past him to take her own shower. It was getting late (they'd spent eight hours together already and no one had died; she considered it a victory) and she wanted to sleep sometime soon. She had to stop dead in her tracks. "Did you use my lilac soap?"
"I didn't have much choice. Between lilac and imitation strawberry, flowery was the lesser of two evils. If my sensitive skin breaks out in a rash…" she didn't wait to hear the rest of his threat. "Hey, wait, what am I suppose to do?"
"Make yourself comfortable!" she yelled as she slammed the bathroom door. After a long relaxing shower, she got out and smoothed the matching lilac lotion over her legs and arms. She wrapped the towel securely around herself and marched off to her bedroom to get dressed. She opened the door and flipped on the light to find Sheldon lying prone in the square middle of her bed. "What in the hell?"
"You told me to make myself comfortable."
"NOT IN MY BED!"
"Where else am I supposed to sleep?"
"I don't know, the couch?" she said like even having to answer the question was stupid.
"Penny, I am 184.2 centimeters tall. I can barely fit in this miniature children's bed you have here. Do you think I can sleep on that tiny couch of yours?"
"I've seen you sleep in an armchair before."
"Quite uncomfortably, mind you." She grabbed some clothes in a huff and marched back to the bathroom to get dressed. She couldn't argue with Sheldon while she was naked. It wasn't a question of modesty, she just needed both hands free so she could hogtie him if necessary. She put on her favorite Hello Kitty! pj set and threw the door open. He was still lying in her bed. Hell no.
"Look here, Sheldon, either you vacate or I'm crawling in there with you." Sheldon looked scared shitless and that's how she liked it. He sat up and looked her in the eye.
"No." Bitch wasn't supposed to call her bluff!
"Have it your way, Barbeque Bacon Burger King." She crawled up in the bed and lay down behind him, instructing him to turn the lights out.
"Penny, you can't…"
"My bed, cowboy."
"But, you're touching me…"
"So, scoot." She flipped over to face the wall away from him and willed herself not to realize that he was so close to her body. He felt the bed shift as he reached up to turn the light off.
"No one tells Leonard," he said.
"Couldn't agree more." She bit her lip and slept on the edge of the bed all night long.
Penny woke up at nine o'clock the next morning, her body half on the bed and half off. She rolled on her back, and felt the cold sheets on Sheldon's side. He had been up and gone for a while now. She sat up and rubbed her eyes. Sleeping on the edge of the bed was not going to equal a good attitude today. She grabbed a hair tie from the little jar Sheldon had set up for her and threw her hair up and out of her face. She drug herself through the apartment, eventually waking up enough to hear Sheldon hang up her phone.
"Yes, well, good day, miss." He sat heavily on her barstool and drank his tea. She merely looked at him but he seemed to hear the unspoken question. "That was the landlord's daughter. He's out of town this weekend and she doesn't know where he keeps his keys." He sounded disgusted. She sat in the barstool next to his and he moved to pour her a cup of the coffee he had brewed for her. She took a long, appreciative drink (leave it to Sheldon to somehow get it to perfect drinking temperature) before she tried to speak.
"Have you called…" she trailed off into a yawn.
"A locksmith? Yes, I have. The only one I would trust not to completely destroy my door doesn't work on Sundays. Luckily, Leonard shall be home tonight. Only," he checked his watch, "eleven hours to go." Penny just took another drink of coffee. They'd find some way to pass the time.
~An hour later~
Penny was painting her toenails as Sheldon checked his email calmly on her pink laptop. He snorted derisively and turned the screen to face Penny and show her the picture Leonard had sent to him. It was Howard and Raj, stripped to the waist and covered in jello and salt and neon paint. God only knew why. Penny laughed at the sight and felt her heart warm a little. It was so easy to have them as friends, to love all four of them. She couldn't help but think that Sheldon was right; they were all so endearing and important to her. He read her the email and she laughed when Leonard told a story about Raj and Howard having been in a gay bar without realizing it until Raj ordered one of his girly drinks and the barkeep didn't laugh at him.
"I suppose they are having quite a time," Sheldon said, looking uncertain.
"Why didn't you go with?"
"On an impromptu foray to the land of sin where decorum and hygiene seem to be antiquated and forgotten? No, thank you."
"I thought you had been to Vegas before."
"Yes, to the Las Vegas Comic-Con." She nodded. Yep, only Sheldon would go to Vegas for Comic-Con.
"Anything you want to do for the next…ten hours?" she asked, finishing up the paint job on her toes. Neither one of them had gotten dressed yet nor did they mention how awkward this all really was. It was just an unspoken agreement that no one mentioned last night ever…or the fact that Sheldon ever wore her shorts…or that he didn't have anything to wear today as he refused to put his old clothes back on. They just accepted this was their life today so they had to make the best of it. God only knew she was used to crazy by now.
"I have no plans on Sundays. I prefer to save that day entirely for work and preparation for work."
"Gee, party-hardy, boy." She blew gently on her still wet toes. "Well, I don't work today because Anna asked for more hours to help pay for her daughter's braces so we got all day."
"We can't leave the house. I do not have to proper clothing for any outside excursions."
"Go wash your clothes from yesterday." Sheldon seemed to stop, like a robot with jammed up circuits.
"I didn't think of that."
"That's what you keep me around for." He grabbed all of his clothing and walked out her door without another word. She couldn't help but smile. He sure was a special case.
~One Rinse and Dry cycle later~
"One does not realize the importance of clean clothing until one no longer has them," he sighed, smoothing the crease in his pants. He had had to use her soap so he smelled quiet strongly of Spring Fling fabric softener and lilac body wash. "Have you come up with any suggestions for the day as neither of us have work to do?" The way he said this was so awkward that she didn't have to heart to suggest something to do. She wished that she could find her key so he could get his flash drive and could work. She wished she had a great big whiteboard so he could occupy himself with his favorite calculations. She swore quite loudly as she tried (and failed) to paint the nails on her right hand. He sat down beside her and took the brush. He quickly painted the five nails before she could even ask why. He stood again and shuffled awkwardly. No one would say anything.
~Six hours, two failed games of Battleship, a mini-marathon of Project Runway, and a bag of chips later~
"I'm bored," she whined, laying on the couch watching Sheldon surf the DC Comics Forum, looking for a fight.
"Leonard will be home shortly and we can get to my Scrabble dictionary."
"I still can't believe you refuse to play Scrabble without a dictionary."
"I still cannot believe you can live in a home with a dictionary or thesaurus."
"Why do I need a real dictionary when we have the Internet?" He gave her a dirty look before looking back at the screen.
"Well, if we aren't going to do anything, I'm going to go wash my hair."
"Hold a moment, Penny. You mean girls actually do that?"
"Generally, Sheldon, all people wash their hair."
"No, no, no. I meant, girls actually just wash their hair. Leonard used to get turned down at least twice a week because they "had to wash their hair". We were under the assumption that it was just a gentle rejection technique." She just shook her head and walked into the bathroom.
She came back to see Sheldon lying listlessly on her couch. He looked so terribly lost. She had to take his mind of his schedule someway. She couldn't think of anything she had that would interest him. But she thought of something that would make her happy. She ran back to the bathroom.
~Two hours later~
"My God, Penny, this is fantastic." Leonard was going to knock on Penny's door to ask her if she had seen Sheldon when he heard Sheldon's voice coming from behind 4B's door. "Why have I never done this before?"
"I didn't think it would be something that would interest you."
"Oh, you were very wrong," Leonard thought his ears were bleeding. Sheldon groaned a little in his throat and Leonard thought about vomiting. "We have to do this more often." Against his better judgment, Leonard tried the handle to find it unlocked and opened the door.
The scene that met him was a sickening cross between hilarious and inappropriate. There was Sheldon with his head on Penny's lap, having green goop smoothed over his face.
"Oh, hello, Leonard," Sheldon greeted. "Look, Penny's giving me a sea kelp facial. I've never felt more invigorated."
"That's great," Leonard groaned, looking hopefully at Penny. She just smiled and kept working on Sheldon's face. She had to same facial cream on her face and Leonard really hoped that Sheldon hadn't gotten to put it on her. "Uh, Sheldon?"
"This really smells wonderful, Leonard. This was in one of those bath baskets I bought her for Christmas."
"She also thinned out my eyebrows for me. I had never realized just how unkempt they were!"
"Sheldon! What are you doing over here?"
"Oh, I got locked out of our apartment on Saturday. I spent the night with Penny." Leonard thought about suicide for the first time in his life.
"Where, eh…" he breathed, thinking about all the reasons he had to live, like killing Sheldon, "where did you sleep?"
"On the couch!" they both shouted rather adamantly. Leonard closed his eyes. He really hoped that was the truth. Sheldon stood up, Penny telling him to wash off the facial in twenty minutes, and stood beside Leonard. Sheldon was thanking Penny for letting him stay, promising her the gas money he owed, and inviting her over tomorrow. Sheldon waved and smiled before he turned on his heel and breezed past Leonard. The only thing Leonard could register was how strongly Sheldon smelt of Penny and how jealous it made him. Penny found her key for their apartment in the ashtray of her car the next day.