Title: The Crossroads Conundrum

Part 1: Sheldon
Author: she_burns1
Pairing: Sheldon/Penny, Leonard/Penny
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,118
Summary: Future!fic! Sheldon, Penny, and Leonard all thought they knew exactly what they wanted, but with a big change on the way, all three begin to question themselves, and each of them is lead in a direction they had not anticipated.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The plot is all mine. No copyright infringement is intended.

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead - Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

Sheldon Cooper was one of the smartest men in the United States.

Debate often arouse as to where exactly he placed overall – he couldn't claim to be the smartest man in the United States (even as much as he would like to) because there were so many factors to consider - other sciences, atypical knowledge, things of this sort.

He was sure, if he wanted to – if he took the time – he could probably do the research and the math to perfectly place it. To figure it out. But it wasn't a focus; it was just something of a lark, so he never gave it much thought.

But it had come to mind lately.

Actually, it had come to mind approximately two weeks, four hours, forty minutes and fifty-three seconds ago.

But who's counting? His mind asked quietly and his lips jerked a bit in one corner.


The concept had become quite clear over the past few years – how could it not? Given everything that had happened…everything that had changed…

For a moment his memory flash to a Saturday night, a warm laundry room, and blonde hair but he quickly tucked the arrant thoughts away. It was best to keep things as compartmentalized as possible.

Considering the trip he was undertaking, it was best if he kept his mind sharp and more aptly focused. He sensed another kind of sarcasm in this. As if this had all been planned – as if he had known exactly what he had been doing in the dark, early hours of the morning when he had packed his things.

But it was frightening to think otherwise.


Sheldon Cooper never did anything without considerable planning.

He never just tossed some neatly folded clothing and other essentials in a bag and left his apartment with no clear destination in mind. He never just went to the train station and bought a random ticket to a random location. That would be madness and he had been tested for that. He was perfectly sane.

What he was doing was…perfectly natural.

He had been working hard, after all. The mysteries of heterotic string theory didn't just unravel themselves. It made perfect sense that he needed rest – some time off from work. Though, in point of fact, he had actually been off from work approximately three weeks, two hours, twelve minutes and thirty-seven seconds ago.

All of them had.

Leonard, Howard, Raj – there had been too much to do, so they had all taken a leave of absence. So much preparation, so much planning, so much bother.

And he wasn't even going to be there to see it.

Sheldon shifted his messenger bag about his shoulder as he searched the cabin for an optimal seat. It was still early, so he was, thankfully, the only person aboard the train. Frankly, he would be very pleased if he was the only person aboard it period.

A nice quiet trip. Serene and….empty wasn't quite the word he wanted to use, but it was the word that came to mind and he reluctantly settled with it, as he needed to concentrate most of his attention on where he was going to be seated for the long trip rather than on what adjective was best to use.

Once the perfect seat was found and he was seated, he noticed that his legs sort of stretched out before him, long and resigned. He knew he should sit up. Slouching was an improper form of posture (non-neutral spine) causing static strain on the muscles – it was known to cause decreased alertness, varicose veins…

Saturday night, a warm laundry room, blonde hair, a voice.

Sheldon stayed like he was.

Instead, he turned his head slightly and looked out the window.

The sun was slowly starting to rise – orange and pink illuminating the sky, a frosty blue starting to blend its way in. It was going to be a beautiful day. Close to what others would call perfection. There would be even more of a rush now. Two apartments overflowing with excitement and nerves and fine dress.

He was glad he was not there to see it.

The note he had left on his neatly made bed would answer any questions as well as give detailed instructions to Howard, who would, more likely than not, take his place. This wasn't something he was proud of, but it would have to do. Given the circumstances.

He reached into his bag and drew out a journal as well as a pen. The journal was filled with bits and pieces of equations, incomplete mathematics. Even in light of his excursion, he certainly didn't want to abandon his work entirely.

His work was everything.

His work, his science, they were life.

His life.

And perhaps concentrating on his work would help his thought process to be more streamlined. More practical. If he could just throw himself into it, get lost in the numbers and conjectures.

But all he did was stare at his theorems and part of him felt as if they were mocking him.

No. It wasn't that that was mocking him. It was-

Saturday, laundry room, blonde hair, a voice in a tone he'd never heard it take before.

He blinked and sighed, finally sitting up to put away his journal before folding his arms. He rigidly ignored the fact that he was rubbing at them as if he was cold. As if he was uncomfortable.

Why was he doing this?

He looked outside at the rising sun.

He looked around the train he currently sat in.

He thought about the train map neatly folded in his pocket. The ticket. The trip. The…insanity of what he was doing.

All unplanned. All not part of his schedule.

He should be collapsing. He should be falling apart.

Maybe he was.

Sheldon looked out the window again and thought of Leonard and Howard and Raj and-

A voice in a tone he'd never heard it take before, saying his name.

Big day soon.

Big, big day.

He blinked and thought of a woman in white.

Sighing again, he leaned back in his seat, clutching his arms tightly.

He had made the right decision.