Eleven Fifteen PM.
Sheldon was still locked with Penny in the elevator. The temperatures had barely gone down, but with his shirt off, his body had adjusted well enough for the current conditions to be tolerable, to say the least.
Unfortunately, that was about the only good thing. He could fill an entire computer hard drive with logs containing the inconvenience and misfortunes he has had to deal with in the last few hours, not the least of which was being trapped with Penny. Scratch that, trapped HALF-NAKED with Penny.
Shouting for help or banging on the walls, they had found out earlier, didn't work. They got no response from the other tenants and with a few calculations, Sheldon had deduced the elevator was actually jammed half-way between the third and fourth floor. That could provide a sufficient explanation as to why no one could hear them. Leonard's tardiness, however, was completely inexplicable and inexcusable. Despite the brevity of Penny's phone call, Leonard should've gotten the message and found a way to get them out hours ago. Sheldon put a mental note to give him a strike for this.
One growl, and Sheldon's jaw tightened. He hadn't had dinner. Neither he nor Penny had any food with them, and earlier, Penny had forced him into giving her an Evian, lest she 'Prance in front of him butt-naked because it's so freakin' hot, I need to cool down. Or do you want me to burn you, Sheldon?' He'd responded by pointing out the debated phenomena of internal human combustion and the possible conditions which could lead to such an occurrence. He had been droning on about the subject when Penny began to unzip her skirt.
He had practically thrown the bottle at her, but she had been a good catch. She used to play baseball with her dad, she had said, but in Sheldon's mind, all he heard was Strike, Strike, Strike!
Sheldon continued to crouch in his corner, careful not to let his back touch the walls. Not after he had exhausted his entire bottle of hand sanitizer just to rid himself of germs. He pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, his eyes shooting sparks at Penny's serene face. How she could lie down on the filth of this floor and sleep in these hellish temperatures was an enigma. Sure, she's using her blouse and sweater as a sleeping mat, but that wasn't even sufficient protection. The fact she could subject herself to this deteriorating condition proved just how much of a slob she was.
Or how well she could adapt to any situation. Any variable, intolerable as it may be.
She was even able to adapt to his ways the way Leonard, Howard and Raj never could, and had integrated herself into his routine. So much so, his time in the arctic hadn't been as productive as he had wanted it to be. Not with the constant nagging of her absence...
'Dr. Sheldon Cooper, stop with this senselessness right now and gather your bearings,' he thought, slapping himself on both cheeks. 'You must not give in to this illness. It's delirium that is bringing this upon you. You should not give into the temptation of--
"Temptation of what?"
Sheldon felt himself go from warm to cold. When he turned, he saw Penny sitting up, her eyes, though still lidded with slumber, slowly coming awake. "What temptation are you talking about, Dr. Sheldon Cooper?"
Good Lord, had he thought out loud?
Sheldon's lips twisted. He hated lying. Honesty was practically tattooed on his tongue, but he had to try. "The...uhm...temptation of...the temptation of sleeping with you."
Penny's jaw dropped. It took a moment for Sheldon to realize he had dropped his as well.
"You are tempted to sleep with me?"
"No! What I meant was...the temptation to sleep with you on the floor. No, not to sleep with you but to sleep together with you..." Sheldon stopped with his hand explanatory hand gestures when Penny only stared. He swallowed. "That still didn't come out right, did it?"
Penny tightened her lips and shook her head. Sheldon, realizing his eyes had once again drifted to the tiny VS logo, turned away with a hand on his face. Strangely though, with Penny out of his line of sight, his tongue and lips begin to relax and adapt to a fabrication. Anyway, it was the truth, albeit not entirely.
"What I meant to say, Penny, was that I am very much tempted to sleep on the floor, as you have been doing prior to my apparent vocalization of thought processes waking you up. It is one hour and seven minutes past my bedtime. I am losing precious hours of undisturbed circadian rhythm, my eyelids are subjecting themselves to gravity, and the lack of energy resources, aka food, as well as the late hour is slowly taking its toll on the internal workings of my system."
"I am sleepy and I cannot sleep on a filthy floor without any conceivable lumbar support needed for a sufficient REM cycle," Sheldon shot out in a breath, holding back the urge to glare at Penny for having to let him explain again.
"Well...I heard 'can't sleep' and 'support'." He heard Penny blow a breath. Probably blowing a rebellious golden strand away from her smooth face...wait. Where'd that come from? "Sheldon, honey, are you saying you can't sleep without a pillow or a mattress?"
"A pillow AND a mattress. One cannot be without the other. Certainly a mattress will provide sufficient support for you body, but the head would need to be elevated at an angle..." His shoulders suddenly went slack. And he hadn't even been looking at Penny. "Oh...I'm too tired to do this..."
There was a moment of silence, but it was lost to Sheldon. He couldn't think clearly. He wanted to sleep, but it was as though his body and the floor had the same magnetic polarity. They'd repel. It was just too unsanitary and even if he did manage to do as Penny had done, he'd never be able to sleep knowing every second, the germs were clinging to his skin and splitting into millions of devilish little legions until they decided to kill the host...
He felt something pulled out from beneath him, and when he saw he was sitting on the floor and not his jacket, he jumped up with a shriek.
"Relax, Sheldon," Penny muttered, and that's when he saw she had taken his jacket and set it beside her. She smiled and patted it. Smiled, not grinned or smirked. It was a tired smile, but for some reason, Sheldon felt his heart jump, if that were even biologically possible. "I know this isn't your idea of a mattress, but at least your jacket and shirts will keep your delicate skin away from those mean old germs on the floor."
Sheldon jaw clenched as he glared, although not at Penny. He glared at everything in the elevator but her. "It's not enough that you had me trapped in here, and forced me to strip naked, but you continue to mock me in every way possible as well as to put my psychological well-being even more askew than it already is?"
Now, she was grinning. Good Lord, what was she going to say now? "Ah! So you finally admit you're off your rocker?"
"Off my rocker?" What did that mean again? "If by rocker, you mean the furniture used by the elderly 'rock' themselves back and forth so as to gain sleep, then that is ridiculous. I never owned a rocker. Meemaw did but I never sat on it. Just on her knee though. Still, it was her rocker, not mine."
"I rest my case," Penny muttered, then patted on the sweater again. Her grin had turned back to her smile. Sheldon thought there was something oddly comfortable about it. "Just sleep here, Sheldon. You can use my lap as a pillow."
"That would still be insufficient," Sheldon harrumphed, though every cell in his body was screaming for him to do as Penny asked. "I've never seen enough body fat on your thighs as to provide what could pass for a cushiony feel. In fact, your legs are quite lean and firm, and would possibly result in my having a stiff neck if I happen to rest my head upon them for the next eight hours."
Penny pursed her lips, the way she did when she was pondering on something, especially something he had said. The word 'kiss' passed through his mind, and he shot his eyes up to the ceiling. "Well...weird as it may be, I actually found that flattering. So, I'll be nice to you tonight. Sleep on my lap, and I'll sing you 'Soft Kitty'."
That did it, although it took a few more awkward moments of kneeling and shifting before Sheldon finally found a tolerable enough position. When he did, he let out a breath and turned his head away, his hands, one on top of the other, settled on his diaphragm.
Penny snorted. "Still sleeping like Dracula?"
Sheldon felt his face twist in annoyance, but stopped himself from glaring up at Penny. "As reminiscent as this may be of Bram Stoker's fictional character, this reclining position happens to be efficient in preventing backaches and stiff necks, and will allow for proper blood circulation."
"Is that why your face is all red?"
Sheldon felt himself take in a deep, angry breath that echoed a growl in his throat. Why was it that he was constantly losing these verbal spars to Penny?
"Sheldon, honey, if you're worried about getting a stiff neck, turning your head away like that is certainly going to give you one."
Sheldon rolled his eyes. How could Penny not see how obvious the explanation was? Why did he have to break down everything so she could understand? And why, for all of Newton, does he ALWAYS waste precious time explaining to her? "As high as the risks may be for an immobilized neck, Penny, I cannot very well face forward. Unless you desire that I have my sights on the underside of your breasts all night." Wait...that didn't sound right, and he knew, down to the last atom of his person, that Penny was smirking.
"Well...I wouldn't mind if you do. It's not like it's the first time a guy's ever--Sheldon, wait!" Penny pulled him back after he had just sat up like a bullet. "Geez, can't you take a joke?"
"I don't see anything comedic about your sexual innuendo," Sheldon spat, and for the life of him, he couldn't understand why he wasn't even flicking her hand away from his arm. "In fact, I find it rather vulgar and offensive."
"You were the one who mentioned my breasts. I thought that was an invitation for 'sexual innuendo'."
"I did not mean it to be that way. I was merely stating a fact." This time, Sheldon did pull his arm away. Her hand felt as though it were burning his skin. Still, he stayed where he was, legs pulled up to his chin, his arms around his knees as he sulked.
"Fine." He heard Penny mutter, followed by the rustle of clothes. "Okay. You can look at me now."
He turned a little, and found Penny had covered her breasts with her Cheesecake Factory blouse.
She patted her lap. "Come on, Sheldon. It's just gonna stay up there until you fall asleep so you better lie down."
With a scowl, Sheldon settled back on Penny's lap. A few more shifting, and he was back to his efficient reclining position, this time, facing forward.
"Comfy?" she asked.
"As comfortable as one could be under the circumstances," he replied stiffly, and wiggled his shoulders a bit so he could rest them properly on Penny's lap. That's when he noticed something. "Penny, I seem to detect an increase of blood circulation on your cheeks. Is my using your thighs as a surrogate for a pillow making you uncomfortable?"
The change in Penny's expression to a look of shock was rapid, although Sheldon was still trying to process the meaning of her prior expression--the one she had worn when he wiggled his shoulders. "Since when did you care if other people are comfortable with something you do?"
"I suppose I had acquired that while in arctic. I had to adapt in order to survive. For some reason, I had a nagging feeling that Leonard, Raj and especially Howard were plotting to kill me in my sleep." Sheldon blinked as he remembered. "The bits and parts of a crossbow, and the 'How to Build a Crossbow for Dummies' book certainly added to my suspicions."
Sheldon frowned. "Sarcasm?"
Penny's lips widened into a tight smile. "Go to sleep, sweetie."
Sheldon blinked again. He'd heard those words many times before, and without thinking, said, "You'll make an excellent mother someday."
This time, it was Penny who blinked. "Whoa. Where'd that come from?"
"You certainly are able to play the part quite well." Sheldon shrugged, and thought he saw Penny's face redden again, but he had pulled himself too deep into his own drone to notice. "As I recall, you catered to my needs when I got sick, just like my mother, although you did refuse to give me a sponge bath. You are also surprisingly tolerant of my routines and are able to integrate yourself into it, like my mother. You also--"
"Sheldon, honey, that doesn't mean I want to be your mother though." Penny shook her head. "Ugh...this is so weird. It's almost like that time with Leonard..."
Sheldon frowned. "What about Leonard?"
"Nothing. Forget what I said."
Sheldon debated on whether or not to make further inquiry to her sudden reference to his roommate, but thought better of it.
"Penny, even if you wanted to be my mother, as you've just vocalized you don't, you can certainly not be her. You have completely different genetic structures for one, ergo you are neither a clone of each other, and I do not need another mother."
Penny began stroking his hair. Sheldon thought it strange, and even stranger still, that he didn't mind. "So, if I'm not a surrogate mother, then what am I to you, Moonpie?"
He hadn't protested to her reference to him as Moonpie either. Another strange thing. Penny's virus must have completely taken hold of his system, but he knew now it was no use fighting it. He'll take samples of his bodily fluids in the morning so he can find a cure. "You're my friend, Penny."
"Just a friend?"
"Of course. What else would you be?" He looked up at her face. She seemed...hurt? No, that couldn't be, he thought. He hadn't said anything negative towards her. At least not by his understanding. But the look on her face would not go away, so he added, "If it makes a difference, I actually hold you in a higher position than the other people in my social circle. Did I not choose you over Raj?"
"Yeah, but that's because he wrote the wrong answer to your favorite acid."
"That was amino acid, Penny. There's a huge difference. You weren't even able to answer that but I still kept you."
"Lucky me." This time, Sheldon didn't need to ask if Penny was being sarcastic. He knew she was. "So Sheldon...if it's not the amino acid answer, then why did you choose me over Raj?"
"As I mentioned, I hold you at a higher position. You actually belong to my top two set of friends whereas Howard and Raj are the bottom two. I merely picked the one who made the obvious error."
"What is this, American Idol?" Penny guffawed, then softened her smile. "Okay, Simon Cowell. I'll rephrase the question. Why am I in your top two?"
"Because..." Sheldon suddenly found his eyes roaming across the room. He hadn't anticipated that question at all, and for the life of him, he didn't have the answer. Penny was annoying, was often mean to him, teased him mercilessly, disobeyed his rules and broke his routine, was not within his level of intellect (then again, who was, so scratch that), didn't even graduate community college, was incompetent in housekeeping...he could come up with a million reasons as to why he should have kicked her out, but none to support why he held her at the same level as Leonard. Thank goodness, he didn't tell her that, or this would've been an even more difficult inquiry to satisfy.
"I'm waiting for an answer, Sheldon."
"Because of this," Sheldon blurted out, holding his arms up in the air. "I kept you because of this."
"This?" Penny's brows rose quizzically, and Sheldon was reminded of when his experiment on Missy's easy-bake oven had ended up with his twin sister spending the second grade with eye-liner-drawn eyebrows. "What do you mean this?"
"This," Sheldon said again. "Do you think Leonard, Howard and Raj would subject themselves to this type of...uhm..."
"Kindness?" Penny supplied.
"I was about to say humiliation, but I suppose that term is applicable." Sheldon put his hands on his stomach again, though this time, he was discreetly wringing his fingers, and he couldn't look at Penny's face without making his blood circulation go haywire. "You are able to integrate yourself into my patterns in a way they never could. I suppose it's due to your uncanny ability to adapt to different situations. That's something I myself am almost incapable of and I believe it's an admirable trait..."
"Wait a minute. Sheldon, did you just compliment me?"
Sheldon felt his brows met. "I see nothing complimentary in a statement of fact."
And there was that smile again. The one that made his heart do things that were simply a biological impossibility. He had already listed that as a symptom, and now he was mentally listing its frequency. As far as he's figured, the activity increased the longer he stayed awake.
He had to sleep.
"Penny, you were supposed to sing me 'Soft Kitty'."
"Oh. Right." Penny settled her back to the wall, and Sheldon closed his eyes, ready to let the song lull him to sleep.
Penny began singing, and Sheldon's eyes snapped open to stare at her face. He didn't stop staring until she had finished the song, and when she did, one word came out with his breath.
"What was that, honey?"
"I-I mean...significant improvement from last time." He looked away. There goes the heart palpitations again. And the disrupted blood circulation.
"I took voice lessons over the summer," Penny explained, clearly proud. "But I got my first lessons from you. Remember when you taught me 'Sea Shanty' and had me repeat it until my tone and pitch was 'satisfactory to your auditory senses'?"
"Yes. I do seem to recall that." Sheldon was quiet for a moment as he pondered on how Penny's memory had also improved. She seemed to recall a great deal of their previous endeavors.
After a deep breath, he managed to look up at her again. It wasn't by his own volition, and he wasn't even entirely certain, but the corners of his lips had curled upwards when he said, "Can you sing 'Soft Kitty' again?"
And she did. She sang it over and over, without needing for him to ask, and soon, he was drifting, Penny's voice still ringing in his ears when he lay between the throes of sleep and awake. He thought he heard her speak, her words echoing like a different song altogether, but melodious just the same.
"You're quite cute when you sleep. Like a harmless puppy. When I first saw you, I always thought you were the cute one. Crazy, huh?
"But you know what's even crazier, Dr. Whack-a-doodle? You're the one I missed the most when you went away..."
Then he felt the now familiar feel of her soft lips on his, but by then, he had already broken past the barriers of consciousness, and the kiss or mouth-to-mouth, or whatever it was, fused with a dream he would later forget once he woke up.
If he did remember, he'll know it wasn't the first time he's had that dream.
"Well...I'm out of plausible explanations," Howard muttered, turning to Leonard and Rajesh, who wore equally shocked expressions. It had been past two in the morning when Howard's mother bailed them out of jail (something the three of them had chosen not to discuss until the appropriate time), and the hour after that had been spent in getting the elevator fixed so they could free Sheldon and Penny.
What they saw when they opened it, however, only added to what was already a crazy Tuesday. Or Wednesday rather. Even Howard's usual sleaziness (especially with Penny's clear state of undress) was numbed by shock.
"Nothing happened between them, okay?" Leonard insisted, his voice rising in an obvious bid to convince either himself, or the others. Or both. "I mean, that's Sheldon Cooper for crying out loud. Mitosis Sheldon? Larval Sheldon?"
"But isn't that the same Sheldon who's a semi-pro at whacking the joystick?" Raj quipped.
"It looks like he whacked more than just his joystick this time," Howard responded, his eyes moving back to the two people inside the elevator. "Maybe that's why Penny calls him...what was that? Whack-a-noodle?"
"Whack-a-doodle," Raj corrected. "Sheldon's not a noodle though. You remember the time you turned on the sink faucet and he ran screaming out of the shower butt-naked?"
"Oh, yeah." Howard shuffled his feet. "Darn if I wasn't humbled..."
Raj nodded sympathetically. "We all were..."
"Let's be serious, you guys," Leonard whined. He didn't like were the conversation was going. "Nothing happened, okay? Sure, they're half-naked on the floor after being locked up together for almost eight hours, and they're all...sweaty and tired and sleeping...but I'm sure there's a logical explanation to all this."
"Okay." Howard shrugged. "Shoot."
"Well...like Penny said, the elevator jammed. And with this heat wave, they had to cool themselves down and remove their clothes. That also explains the empty water bottles there." Leonard pointed to the grocery bag. "As to why Sheldon has his head on Penny's lap...uhm, Sheldon cannot sleep without lumbar support and somehow convinced Penny he should use her lap as a pillow. She might have protested but Sheldon always gets his way."
Howard nodded. "That actually sounds acceptable."
"Isn't it?" Leonard began to smile. Relief was a sweet thing.
"Yeah, very good explanation. But dude," Raj pointed at Sheldon, "Can you explain why Sheldon has Penny's lipstick all over his mouth?"
Whew! My first complete multi-chapter fic! I know, I know, some of you are probably asking, "Where's the smut?!" Depends on whether I'll finish *The Elevator Conundrum 1.5*, or rather "The Elevator Conundrum Alteration". Yes, I'm trying to work on that but there's really no guarantee I'll be inspired enough to finish it. I mean, I've written steamy scenes before, but I'm still trying to get the vibe on how I could make it believable for the Sheldon/Penny tandem. And yeah, I did say this is something I'd want as an episode in TBBT. We can't have too much Sheldon/Penny smut. At least not until the end hahaha! Anyway, I really hoped you enjoyed this fic. I've definitely enjoyed your reviews. Oh, and kindly check my fanart! I actually did the fanart even before I finished the last chapter. Thanks guys and Peace out! Sheldon/Penny for the win! (I think you might see a trend here. In my last fanfic, The Virtual Coitus Surrogation, Raj also had the last line haha. That's entirely coincidental though...or rather it's due to the law of large numbers...*whatever sheldon* )