Through the Eyes of 3B
Darren had heard about the new tenant in his building. In fact, the person who
had just moved in lived in the apartment directly above his, 4B. He had heard that her name was Penny and so when he first met her, he knew exactly what to expect. Cute, young blonde actress hoping to find fame in Hollywood while living peacefully in the Crown City. And really, Penny was quite cute. He would have given her his number if he wasn't already hopelessly in love with Stacey, his co-worker. But he was, so that was that.
But things really got weird when Darren was heading out for the afternoon, only to find the two genius nerd guys from apartment 4A (Leonard and Sheldon he remembered were their names) standing outside the building…with no pants on. Darren unlocked the door for them, letting them into the apartment complex, only to watch them run off upstairs, appropriately embarrassed.
Ok, that he hadn't expected. He didn't even want to know…
Several months passed by as Darren continued to lock himself in his room, patiently waiting for inspiration to hit him. The life of a screenwriter was a tough one and he had to stay on top of his game if he wanted to remain competitive. There certainly was no business quite like show business.
Plus it helped him keep his mind off of Stacey. His non-girlfriend.
As the months passed, Darren noticed a lot more noise coming from the floor above him. The new tenant of 4B was definitely a lively one. Not only that, but she seemed to have gotten the largely introverted 4A residents to ramp up their volume as well. Between off-key show tunes, rowdy Halloween parties and late night Halo sessions, Darren was thankful to get any writing done at all.
Darren decided that enough was enough. He made his way out of his apartment in a huff, narrowly avoiding a collision with Mrs. Vartabedian, and trudged his way up to the fourth floor. It was time to give Penny and her new little friends a piece of his mind.
"Ok, sweetie, I'll take care of you." Darren heard Penny's voice in the distance. "What do you need?" She sounded concerned.
Next, Darren heard Sheldon's voice, somewhat muffled, in reply. "Well, my mom used to give me sponge baths…"
Darren's eyes widened as he heard the door to apartment 4A close. Whatever activities Penny and Sheldon were undertaking there, he didn't want to barge in on. His complaints would have to wait for another day.
Darren raced out of his apartment, realized he had forgotten his car keys, and ran back to retrieve them. The producers of his film had called him in for an emergency meeting about his most recent re-write of the screenplay. It was ridiculous; he was a writer, not a doctor, so why was he running around in the middle of the night like he was on-call? He sighed. At least it was better than the soap operas he used to write in New York City.
In a hurry to get to his car, Darren turned the corner and nearly tripped over a long extension cord. He gaped, seeing Sheldon sitting on the stairs with his laptop, looking somewhat forlorn.
"Um, sorry about that." Darren said in confusion.
"I apologize for the hazardous arrangement, but this is the only way I can play video games without having the likes of Leslie Winkle inflicted upon me." Sheldon pondered for a moment. "Though, if you had properly planned your outing in a timely manner, you would have had no need to run and therefore no reason to trip."
Darren stared at Sheldon dumbly. He had a meeting to get to. Right.
"Bye Sheldon." Darren muttered, unsure if he had even been heard.
He couldn't help but notice, with growing confusion, the scent of Penny's perfume lingering in the hallway, the very same that Stacey wore every day.
Darren felt on top of the world. He was getting home rather late, but he didn't mind. He had spent the whole afternoon with Stacey and they had even decided to eat dinner together. Okay, not just the two of them, as much as he would have liked that, but going out for Ethiopian food with the gang was always fun.
And Stacey, much to his delight, had been by his side all night. Darren could still see her smile each time he closed his eyes.
Darren, firmly affixed on Cloud Nine, never noticed the loud slamming of a door or the various women's undergarments stuck high up on the telephone pole above him.
Christmas had been exactly what Darren had needed. He had travelled home to Portland to visit his family. Sometimes being so far away from them all of the time really got him down. Now he was relaxed, refreshed and ready to attack his projects head-on.
But first he had to check his mail.
Sheldon was already at the mailboxes, humming happily to himself. He offered Darren an uncharacteristically exuberant smile as soon as he saw him.
"I hope you are finding yourself well during this festive season."
Darren didn't even think that Sheldon celebrated Christmas. "Yeah, I did have a great holiday, thanks."
Sheldon grinned genuinely. "As did I. I was pleasantly surprised to receive the most perfect gift. I had always looked down upon the act of gift exchange ever since my twin sister Missy gave me a pathetically juvenile science set when we were seven, but I may have to rethink my previous conception."
Darren had never seen Sheldon in such a talkative mood. In fact, this may have been the very first time Sheldon had ever initiated a conversation with him. They rarely spoke four sentences to each other in a year.
"What present?" Darren asked curiously.
"You are aware of the thespian actor Leonard Nimoy are you not? Oh, of course you are!" Sheldon waved the illogical notion away. "Penny got me a napkin with –"
"Sheldon, are you still down here?" Penny appeared behind them, a look of amused frustration on her face. "Are you still boring people with the Leonard Nimoy napkin story? Look, honey, I know you're excited and it's very sweet, but Christmas dinner is ready. We need to get going!"
"But Penny, how can I deprive the world of learning about such a great gift? Maybe it will spur them to improve the calibre of their gift-giving in future years."
Penny giggled in spite of herself, dragging Sheldon upstairs. "I knew you would like it, but I didn't think you'd get this excited. Are you going to hug me again?" She teased.
Darren shook his head in disbelief as they stalked off. Apparently the holiday season could bring out joy in anyone.
Sometimes when no words came to him, Darren would forego writing to sit and think. He considered the fact that people like Leonard could end up dating someone like Penny and he would still be sitting at home alone pining for Stacey the rest of his life.
It just wasn't fair.
And then he thought about everything he and Stacey had been through and everything that was to come.
He thought to himself that maybe true love just takes more time…
"You're my favourite superhero, Sheldon." Penny giggled and Darren could hear her stumbling through the halls.
"As much as I wish it were true, I am not actually a superhero, Penny." Sheldon shuffled in an effort to steady her balance. "I believe your drugs are simply taking effect, impairing your sense of reality."
She snorted unattractively. "You use too many big words. You're like Super Thesaurus Man!"
"That doesn't seem like it would be a very useful superpower to have, Penny."
"Well, I don't care what you say, Sheldon, you are a superhero." Darren could hear the childlike obstinacy in her voice. "Because you saved me today."
"…Let's hurry up and get you to your apartment."
Darren heard shouting, louder than usual, coming from the floor above him. He tried his best to ignore it – the boys and Penny were friends after all, they would sort it out – but the shouts continued on, rising in intensity.
"It's over, Leonard, for good!" Penny yelled, running into her apartment and shutting the door.
"Fine! We all knew you never really wanted to give me a chance anyway!" Leonard spit back, escaping into 4A.
Only Sheldon stood in the middle of the hallway staring back and forth at the two, unsure of his stance, uncertain of the strange bittersweet feeling in his heart.
It was quiet, much too quiet. At least… for them. Darren caught sight of Sheldon carrying a bag of take-out in his arms and heading up the stairs as Penny prattled on about…the latest Star Trek movie?
She was controlled in her enthusiasm, glancing his way constantly. But he never looked her in the eye once. He seemed tired, lost and defeated.
Penny cracked a bad joke about how many Vulcans it takes to change a light bulb, but Sheldon just stared at her blankly.
"Penny, did you Google that particularly unfunny witticism?"
Darren would have thought it was the most normal thing in the world if it weren't for the words they chose not to say.
Darren should have known not to hurry into the laundry room on a Saturday night. That was Sheldon and Penny's time. He often wondered why they needed a scheduled day for laundry. He was only there now because he had run out of things to wear.
He could hear them as he waited just outside the door.
"Hey Sheldon, do you want to go paintballing tomorrow?"
"I don't know. Penny…I'm not really comfortable…"
"Hey, it's okay, I won't let those punk teens get ya. I've got your back!"
"It is not that, Penny. I am uncomfortable with this social parameter we have entered. You are my best friend's ex-girlfriend. Is it appropriate for us to be spending so much time together?"
"God, you're such an idiot, Sheldon. I care about you, so what?"
"I am confused. You care for me in spite of the fact that you think I am an idiot? This is a claim, by the way, that I have a great deal of evidence to disprove."
"I care about you and I don't give a damn about any of your stupid social conventions. And yes, Sheldon, that does make you an idiot. When are you going to finally wake up and see what's right in front of you?"
"But Penny, my eyesight appears to be perfectly satisfactory at the moment. I see no reason for there to be any malfunction."
"Forget it, Sheldon! God, just forget I even tried…"
If Penny noticed that Darren had been eavesdropping as she stormed out of the laundry room, she gave no indication.
Darren wanted so badly to help them. Sheldon and Penny seemed like they were trying so hard but not getting anywhere.
He reminded himself that he was in no position to offer advice. He was still stuck in limbo with Stacey, unwilling to set the record straight, unable to tell her the truth.
Without a second thought, Darren grabbed his coat and his keys. It was now or never.
There are times in your life that you know you will never forget. There are moments that you make sure you imprint in your mind, because you never want a single detail to change.
Darren was certain that this was one of those times.
"It's great that you live close by, Darren, because, well, you know…" Stacey trailed off, trying her hardest not to blush while she smiled.
He smiled back. "Yeah."
"Penny, did you remember to carry out the hygienic hand regimen I gave you?" A voice carried down the hall.
"Sure did sweetie, now please stop fidgeting."
Within moments Darren and Stacey were face-to-face with Sheldon and Penny.
"Oh." Penny's eyes widened slightly. "Hi there. Darren, right?" She asked brightly. Sheldon looked uncomfortable, but Darren couldn't tell if it was due to the unwarranted social interaction or the fact that Penny's hand was in his.
"Yeah. Hi Penny, hi Sheldon. I'd like you to meet my girlfriend, Stacey."
"Nice to meet you." Stacey nodded.
"I would like to introduce you to my current romantic partner, Penny. Darren, I believe you have already met her, but Stacey may get acquainted as well if she wishes. It may interest you to know that we have yet to establish a sexual component to our relationship as I am still attempting to successfully master hand-holding."
Penny blanched as Darren and Stacey looked at Sheldon in shock.
"Um…well, we need to get going." Penny laughed nervously, dragging Sheldon with her.
"It was good seeing you." Darren offered.
"What did I do wrong, Penny? Wasn't that how couples are normally meant to behave?"
"Oh honey, we are nowhere close to normal." Penny grinned.
"They were…interesting." Stacey noted.
"You don't know the half of it."