Title: The Aesop Continuum (SEQUEL to: The Vestigial Organ Recall)

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Not very spoiler-y at all, vague references to seasons 1,2,3

Disclaimer: I do not work for the production company or the network. I earn no compensation for this other than a sense of well being.

Chapter One

Sheldon, his mother Mary, Leonard and Penny stood at the base of the staircase in the foyer of their building on a warm Sunday afternoon. Sheldon looked up the stairs and back down at his feet. He raised his left leg and grimaced.

Darn elevator! When are they ever going to fix it!

Mary raised her hand and placed it on her son's upper arm.

Sheldon turned to look at her. "Really Mom, I'll be fine."

"Now Sheldon," Mary gently said to him. "You've just had major surgery, you need to take it easy. You now what they say, slow and steady wins the race."

A voice echoed down from around the corner of the first landing above on the staircase. "I don't know about that darlin', they never did meet a jackrabbit such as myself!" The click of footsteps clad in cowboy boots preceded the sight of a tall lanky man dressed in jeans, a white tee shirt and a chambray blue shirt. "Well, hey there my sweet Mary Rose!"

Mary's face nearly split in half from her smile. "Duke! You didn't tell me you were coming!"

He bounded down the last few steps. When he got to Sheldon he threw his arm around his neck and put him in a headlock. With his free hand, he proceeded to give Sheldon a noogie. "Hey Petunia! I'm glad to see you on your feet. I thought you'd be laid up in the hospital for a few days at least."

Sheldon tried to pry himself from his older brother's much stronger grasp. "Duke, will you please release me? I would like to make it up the stairs in one piece. And don't call me that!"

Duke smiled an easy grin. "Well all right, Petunia, don't get your panties in a bunch." He slowly let go of Sheldon and looked at the group behind him. "Are you going to introduce me to you friends? I already met Howard and Raj, they're upstairs with Missy."

Sheldon rolled his eyes. "Oh Lord, is everyone from the entire family here?"

This really is intolerable, unless maybe MeeMaw came too!

"Nope, just me, Missy and Mama." He looked over to Leonard and extended his hand. "Since my brother has forgotten his manners, let me introduce myself. I'm John Wayne Cooper as is, and you must be Leonard."

Leonard darted forward to shake his hand. "Yeah, hi, I'm Leonard." He turned to his right. "And this is my…girlfriend Penny."

"So this is Penny?" Duke took her hand. "This is the beautiful lady who saved my little brother's life." He pulled her into a tight hug and then picked her up and spun her around. Penny let out a slight squeal.

Penny quickly evaluated him. She definitely could tell the Sheldon and Duke were brothers, only Duke was slightly taller and had a good thirty pounds on Sheldon, and all of that was lean muscle. And damn, didn't he have the same gorgeous blue eyes as Sheldon.

Wait, did I just think Sheldon had gorgeous eyes? Huh!

A commanding voice came out from behind them. "Put…her…down!"

Duke and Penny stopped spinning and both looked over to where Leonard was standing.

Leonard looked up from his cell phone and held up his hands defensively. "It wasn't me."

Sheldon was giving them his most authoritative look. "Are you quite done? Some of us need our rest."

Duke realized his brother was the same as he ever was and returned his own hardened stare. "Aw Shelly, I was just sayin' thank you to the girl."

"You could have said 'thank you' by shaking her hand, not by squeezing the life out of her!"

"Really Sheldon, look, I'm okay." Penny looked back and forth between the two men. She could only draw on her half-loving, half-contentious relationship she had with her own sister to know that sibling conflicts from childhood were hard to get over.

"Duke! Sheldon!" Mary warned. "Shake hands and make nice. You're both grown men, now start acting like it."

Duke held out his hand first, while Sheldon was hesitant to proffer his.


Sheldon finally took his brother's hand. Duke pulled him into an embrace, at which Sheldon's body stiffened, partly because he didn't like being touched and partly because he was still sore from the surgery. Duke only held him briefly and when he let him go he ruffled Sheldon's hair. "Hey little brother, I'm just happy that you're okay."

Sheldon grinned at that. He liked it when his brother was in protective mode, not the one where swirlies and noogies abounded.

Mary took it as a sign to get them all moving again. "Alright, let's head upstairs. I've got all the fixings for a good Sunday brunch."

Sheldon took his first full step up the stairs and grimaced in pain again. He had to take each stair in baby steps. Duke was in the lead, with Mary at Sheldon's side. Leonard and Penny were a step behind him in case he should lose his balance and fall. When they finally reached the first landing, Sheldon hissed out the breath he had been holding.

"Lord, it's going to be time for me to leave before he gets up to the fourth floor." Duke shook his head and scooped Sheldon up in his arms. "Hold on Petunia, your express train has arrived!"

Leonard couldn't help but bark out a laugh. Penny smacked him in the arm. Sheldon looked mortified.

"Put me down! I'm capable of ambulating on my own!"

"Ambu-whating?" asked Duke.

"Ambulating…walking…climbing the stairs!" shouted Sheldon.

"Sheldon," Duke tried to reason, "We're all going to grow old and die waitin' on you to get up those stairs."

"Boys!" This time it was Penny who was doing the warning. "Sheldon, you pipe down! Duke, start climbing! And, DO…NOT…call…him…Petunia!"

She unleashed the death glare on him and he took a half step back. Leonard cringed away as well. Mary looked appreciatively at her and thought…

I do like that girl, she's got gumption!

Sheldon held his own against the death glare. He only smiled back at Penny.