Title: Shoulder
Warning: Implied substance abuse
Words: 600
Notes: Written for the drabble tree sheldon_penny where I picked up the word "cry." Yes, I fail at writing drabble-length. I'm not completely happy with it, but eh. I'm kind of a feedback whore.

. . . . . . . . . .

Crying. It was something Penny had been doing a lot of lately.

Another acting job down the drain. Cry.

Another sucky, waste-of-time audition. Cry.

Another date gone horribly wrong. Cry a lot. She thought of the way the guy—Brad—had looked at her when she made a little reference to Star Trek, specifically Spock, and then she tried to explain it to him and he just brushed her off and hinted at going back to his place. God, he seems to think that was some kind of foreplay.

She had made it all the way back to her apartment before the tears started to fall.

She was standing on her tiptoes, looking through the topshelf of her cabinet for the bottle of Jack she'd hidden away, promising herself she'd only use it for medicinal purposes. Like tea totties, except with no tea.

Well, nursing a wounded spirit could fall under that, right?

Just as she pulled the bottle down from the shelf, she heard three soft knocks on the door.


Knock knock knock.


She stomped across the apartment and flung the door open just as he was finishing the third and final series of knocks. Crap, she liked to interrupt his little routine.

"What Sheldon?" She growled, meeting his wide blue eyes. Always curious, she thought.

He simply blinked at her for a few moments.

Was the genius string theorist really at a loss for words, for once? "Whaaat do you want, Sheldon," she asked, waving the bottled that weighed in her right hand.

Sheldon's eyes traveled down to it, briefly and then moved back up to her face. "Judging by your disheveled state, reddened face and puffy eyes, would it be improper to deduce that your you are upset and to mitigate the situation, your intention is to 'drown your sorrows' by attempting to consume the entire contents of that bottle?"

Penny stared at him for a moment, her jaw slack as she ran his words through her head. She didn't meet his eyes as she mumbled, "Maybe." What did he care?

"Look Sheldon, unless you're gonna be my shoulder to cry on or something, just go away. Please," she added, thinking she might appeal to his maddening need to be so polite all the time.

Sheldon just stared at her, his mind seemingly working out the problem, most likely whether or not she was using sarcasm. She turned and swung the door closed behind her. When she didn't hear the satisfying slam, she whirled back around to see Sheldon stepping into her apartment—her space—and gently shutting the door behind him.

Penny looked at him in confusion and he cleared a space on the right side of her sofa, quickly folding up the camisole he'd moved and then arranging the pillows in a neat row before sitting down awkwardly on the cushion.

"Sit down, Penny," Sheldon said, nodding at the space beside him.

Her wariness not fading, hugging the bottle to her chest, Penny shuffled to the couch and sat down.

"As I am unfamiliar with the social protocol for this situation, I request that you inform what is entailed in provide this 'shoulder to cry on.' It is possible that the meaning is not to be taken literally—"

The shock of him still being there has worn off a little as Penny leaned onto Sheldon and cried. He was rigid, but warm, and he smelled fresh. Always fresh. "There, there." His breath tickled her hair, caressed her forehead and Penny felt less alone.

For the first time in a while, she felt better.