This was an idea that for some reason, I couldn't shake. I'm not totally sure where it's going.
Disclaimer: Things I don't own- this.
Penny flipped the mirror on her visor open and checked her lip gloss quickly before climbing out of her car. Checking her watch, she noted she had plenty of time to get to Gate Twelve. The flight wasn't getting in until three o'clock.
The young actress felt quite perky and found herself half-skipping across the expansive parking lot. It was a beautiful California day, she'd been able to sleep in this morning and had found out only an hour ago that she'd gotten a callback on the mattress store commercial.
Her cell chirped in her bag and she dug past seventeen other things before grasping it and pulling it out. A moment later, she wished she'd taken a little longer to find it. Howard Wolowitz's picture filled the screen, warning her that he was in fact the person calling. She sighed before flipping the phone open.
"Hello," she said flatly.
"Penny," he drawled out, his voice an octave lower than it normally was.
"Howard," she responded, silently wondering why she had given him her number in the first place.
"Here's the thing," he said. She heard a scuffle in the background. "Today is Wednesday."
"I'm aware," she answered.
"And…" She heard mumbling on his end. He was talking to someone else now. "I know, I'm telling her." A moment later he came back on. "Yeah, my scooter is in the shop."
"Oh." Penny had a sinking feeling she knew what was coming. "Okay."
"Would you have time to…" She could hear him in the distance. "Sheldon, sit down and shut up."
"Howard," she shouted into the phone. "I am at the airport, I'm not going to be able to-"
"Sheldon Cooper." He felt the need to use his whole name? She felt herself smile.
"Yes, I know Sheldon."
"As you know, it's Wednesday."
She closed her eyes briefly. "Yes, I am aware." She entered the large building and felt the cold air wash over her body.
"Wednesday is new comic book day," Sheldon continued on.
"Just like every Wednesday," she answered.
"Yes." He paused. "Penny, I need a ride to the comic book store." There was a slight whine creeping into his voice now.
"Sweetie, I can't." She re-adjusted her purse on her shoulder as she wound through the crowd at the arrivals gate.
"But you need to." She was sure there was reasoning to that in Spock's crazy head.
"Sheldon." She ducked around a couple who was making out to a repulsive degree. "I'm at the airport."
There was silence on the other end of the line. "You didn't tell me that."
"What?" It was getting harder and harder to hear him through the din that surrounded her.
"I said you didn't tell me you were going anywhere. I didn't have a chance to finalize you travel itinerary." He paused. "How will you know if you're using your time efficiently?"
"Honey, I'm not going anywhere, I need to-" The door opened and people started filing out. There, in the crowd, Penny saw a red head struggling amongst them. "I gotta go."
She flipped her phone shut and shoved it into her purse.
"Emma!" She called out, waving her arms. The girl in question approached her quickly, dropping a bag at her feet.
"Welcome to California!"
"Ugh," the young girl said, lifting her hair off the back of her neck before leaning back in the passenger seat. "It's like ninety degrees here."
"Yeah, and what temperature was it in Omaha?" Penny asked without skipping a beat.
"Eighty- something," Emma responded. "But at least it's always really windy so it doesn't feel as hot."
Penny chuckled at this as she merged into traffic. "I still can't believe your mom said it was okay for you to come out here." She gave a sidelong glance to her niece. "She must be getting soft in her old age."
"She could still kick your ass," Emma shot back.
"Hey, language." Penny tried pointing at her, but she was already trying to steer and hold an iced frappucino, so the effect was less than stellar. Emma silently grabbed the cup from Penny's hand.
"God, you act just like her," Emma laughed. "I remember you being fun. Did I make a bad choice in coming out here?"
"Babe, I'm gonna show you things you've never seen," Penny answered, giving the red head a wink.
"Okay, but that sounded like a come on, so…."
"Shut up," Penny retorted. "I'm trying to drive."
They sat in comfortable silence for three exits before Emma piped up. "So," she started, turning slightly in her seat and tucking a foot under her leg. "Tell me about it."
"Tell you about what?" Penny asked, taking a sip of her coffee.
"California. Living the dream. All of it." At this, Emma gestured out to the sprawling landscape of Burbank.
Penny had been trying of things to tell her niece that sounded good without being lies. She hadn't done much acting at all and worked almost full time as a waitress in a family restaurant where she routinely served tourists in cargo shorts and trucker hats that weren't being worn ironically? That didn't sound like much fun.
Besides, the thing she really needed to ease Emma into was the idea of the inhabitants of 4A.
"Emma, could you get my cell phone out of my bag?"
"Whoa," her passenger said. "You've missed like seven calls. Who's Moonpie?" She asked suggestively, wiggling her eyebrows upward. Penny felt her stomach knot. She hadn't meant to completely forget about him. She watched Emma adjust her side toggle button. "You put it on silence, dork." She handed it to Penny, who quickly flipped it open and hit speed dial 5.
She cringed. "Hey Sheldon."
"Penny, what on earth happened? The whole reason for having a cell phone is so one can be in contact with you as needed."
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"You could have been kidnapped or-"
"Sheldon, I'm fine."
"- and do you have any idea the amount of crime that has happened at or near that airport in just the last year? Research states-"
She sighed and looked over at Emma for a moment. "Be downstairs in ten minutes."
"It is Wednesday after all."
"Comics?" Emma asked, her jaw dropping. "Who are you?"
"Yeah, yeah." Penny responded, smiling at her niece. "It will only take a few minutes."
"Yeah." Emma stared at her aunt for a moment. "Are you into comics too or…?"
"No," Penny answered. "And they're comic books." Penny rolled her eyes at Emma's horrified expression. "Caleb thought I was cool when I got him "Hellraiser' or whatever it was."
"Caleb's a freak," Emma replied about her twin brother.
"If…when we pick him up, if you could turn your sarcasm down about four clicks, that would be great." Penny glanced over at the girl in the car with her.
"Why, is he a baby?"
"Well, yes," Penny answered. "But more than anything, it's going to be lost on him."
"What?" Emma asked.
"You'll see." Penny moved over to the outside lane and pulled up in front of the building, where Sheldon stood, fidgeting with his messenger bag.
"Oh gee," Emma announced, "Don't tell me, it's the pale virgin in the 'Superman' t-shirt."
"Trust me," Penny said quietly as the door opened, "it could be so much worse."
"Wow." Emma flopped down on Penny's couch much later that evening. "That was…wow."
"Now you can say you've experienced that", Penny remarked in an overly sweet voice.
"Okay, so…" Emma stared at her aunt for a moment. "What's the deal with you and… Leonard? He seems kinda into you."
Penny felt her stomach tighten uncomfortably. Penny and Leonard had never really had good timing. They had barely spent any time alone together, and she'd realized that forcing the issue wasn't really worth it. Just because Leonard seemed to really like her…looks, it was never going to work. Penny, having come to her own conclusion on the subject had been oblivious to him lately. Apparently, her niece was able to pick up on something anyway.
"Um," Penny started awkwardly. "We, Leonard and I, we sort of dated." Emma's eyes got large. "I mean, we went on a date together. He seems to sort of still like me, and he's really nice, but…" Penny picked at invisible lint on her shirt. "It just didn't work out."
"Nice?" Emma turned toward Penny on the couch. "When you were in the bathroom earlier, he told me that even though I had the potential and aptitude to excel in unspecialized sciences, I was likely going to spend my high school years having sex and playing meaningless sports." The red head rolled her eyes.
What? Leonard would never be rude to her. This didn't add up.
"Really?" Penny asked, alarm apparent in her voice.
"Yeah." She stopped to think for a moment. "I know they're all…'unique little snowflakes' and stuff, but he is really…out there."
"Well, I guess." Penny felt unsettled by this evaluation of her neighbor's character. "I guess when you spend as much time with all of them as I tend to, you don't notice so much."
"You notice," Emma retorted, pointing an accusatory finger at the older female. "Earlier, at the comic book store, you looked at him like you wanted to rip his arm out of the socket and beat him to death with it."
Penny stared at her as if she had gone crazy.
"Sheldon," she muttered confusedly.
"Sheldon," Penny repeated, leaning forward. "The one we took to the comic book store earlier is Sheldon."
"Okay, so then…" Emma scrunched up her face. "Which one is Leonard?"
"The one with the glasses," Penny answered, feeling disconcerted.
"Oh!" Emma shrugged. "No, Leonard was very…polite."
"Yeah," Penny answered dumbly. Something still wasn't sitting right with her.
"Okay, so…Howard is the pervert, Raj is mute, Sheldon is the giant spaz and Leonard…wears glasses?"
Penny nodded distractedly. She couldn't put her finger on it.
"So, you dated the little guy?"
Oh my god.
"You thought I dated Sheldon?" She stood, feeling off- balance. "You think there's something between Sheldon and I?"
Emma stared at her blankly.
"Uh, yeah. I spent the whole afternoon with you two. Why wouldn't I?"