Knock knock knock


Knock knock knock


Knock knock knock


Behind her door Penny waited patiently until her visitor finished his little OCD routine. She was tempted to swing it open halfway through just to mess with him but the image of the twitches that that would bring was enough to make her resist.

"Hi Sheldon," she said with a sigh as she opened the door to reveal the lanky form of the resident fruitcake Dr. Sheldon Cooper.

He stared at her, his expression contorted. "Penny, Leonard has just given me some disturbing news."

No 'Hello', no 'how are you'. As usual Sheldon was so immersed in his own concerns he completely forgot about little things like social niceties.

Not that he'd bother with them if he did remember.

"What's that?" she asked indulgently as she moved out of the way allowing him to stalk into her apartment. "No, lemme guess, Russell T has decided the next Doctor is gonna be a woman?"

He stopped dead, spun on his heel and glared at her. "Now, Penny, don't be ridiculous. You know as well as I do that Steven Moffat has taken over, albeit a little too early given his predilection for foisting romantic pairings off on the Doctor. Besides the Doctor only changes his outward appearance; he still retains the same DNA sequencing and therefore can not be a woman."

Hiding a smile Penny cocked her head. "But he's an alien so why does he always look human?"

Sheldon opened and closed his mouth. "Well...well...well isn't it obvious?"

Doing her best to look innocent Penny just stared at him, waiting for the great Sheldon Cooper to expound his point.

"The majority of life in the universe as posited by Russel T Davies is that the four limbed form is the most prolific and the Doctor wishes to blend in on most-- That's not the matter at hand," he said suddenly, shocking her.

Sheldon was interrupting himself. Sheldon was stopping a science fiction explanation to interrupt himself.

"Geez, sweetie, what's so important?"

"Leonard informed me- quite possibly erroneously- that you are contemplating relocating yourself back to your place of origin."

There was a beat before she gave in.

"I don't know what that means."

Sheldon sighed. "Are you leaving?"

Ah. She had been trying to avoid this. Damn Leonard, she thought that Sheldon was the one who had problems keeping secrets.

She swallowed and closed the door, heading back into the apartment, avoiding his eyes.

"Yeah, I was ya know, thinking about it."

"But why?" Confusion was plainly written across his face.

"I don't know," she shrugged one shoulder awkwardly, "lots of reasons. My crappy job, my lack of acting gigs, my money situation, my parents constantly harping on at me to come home since I'm such a failure."

The very thought made her head towards the kitchenette and reach for the wine bottle.

"But this is not a new situation," Sheldon squawked. "Why should it bother you now?"

Penny glared at him. "My sister just got promoted to executive assistant and my parents are all so proud and-"


"-all, well she's so successful because she had a plan-"


"-and now she has a career and a mortgage and a great guy-"


"-and she'll be getting married and you're still pretending like you're gonna be a successful movie star when you can't even get a commercial and-"


"-what?" she rounded on him.

Sheldon sniffed. "I don't think you are supposed to drink the wine directly from the bottle."

Penny grimaced as she took in the half empty wine bottle that she had been lifting to her lips. "God, even thinking about going home is enough to turn me into an alcoholic!"

"So why go?"

Penny sagged. "Because there's nothing here in California for me. In Nebraska I was beautiful and popular and knew I could do anything. Here I'm just another waitress who can't get an acting job."

She sank on the sofa and watched as Sheldon hesitantly sat in his spot.

He waited a beat. "So get another job."

"Right," Penny scoffed, "because there are so many jobs for non college graduates that pay well and don't involve taking your clothes off."

Sheldon looked away as if embarrassed by the turn in conversation.

Penny smiled slightly, he was such a whack-a-doodle.

"Why do you care anyway?" she asked suddenly.

He gave her his patent disapproving look. "Since you have been entered into my social circle and have, with some efficiency I might add, become one of my very few associates I would call "friend" your leaving would create a gap that would cause some not considerable inconvenience for me. Having become accustomed to say, five at Halo night, and ordering two sets of tangerine chicken it would be downright odd to have to re-pattern ourselves to a pre-Penny existence."

it took her a moment to sort through the Sheldon babble and translate it into English.

"If that's your way of saying you'll miss me, thanks." Her voice made it clear that this was unlikely. She softened. "It's not like I'd be missed anywhere else. I know the Cheesecake factory could do without me."

"Penny, Penny, Penny," Sheldon shook his head. "Don't sell yourself short. I'm sure with proper application and judicious amount of deception you could get a better paying job, without having to return to Nebraska."

Penny just shrugged. "But at least there people know me, right? I'm somebody. I could stay with my sister, she could get me a job. I don't know, Sheldon, there seem to be plenty of reasons to go."

Sheldon stood up quickly and raised his chin in that defiant way he had. "Well then, Penny, I just suppose I'll have to discover enough reasons for you to stay."

And with that he turned on his heel and marched out of the door.

"Where is Sheldon?" Howard whined, "my bacon-and-burger burger is screaming for me to shame my mother."

Penny rolled her eyes and grabbed for her own take out parcel. "Do you take lessons in how to be disgusting or does it come naturally?"

Howard leered. "It's all natural, baby."

"Leonard!" Penny leaned over her shoulder to Leonard pottering around the kitchen. "Make him stop."

"Wolowitz!" Leonard grabbed a napkin and hurried back. "Remember what we talked about, huh? How its hard to come to Halo night if one of us has a restraining order against you."

Penny grinned despite herself. "Where is Dr. Whack-a-doodle anyway?"

"If you were referring to me," Sheldon said from the doorway, "I'm here."

"Where were you?" Leonard frowned. "It's not like you to be late. We almost had to reheat your burger."

Sheldon shuddered. "I was detained at the library."

"Library?" Howard stared at him. "I thought Google replaced all those."

Sheldon grabbed his meal off the table and opened the bun to reassure himself that Leonard had not messed up his order. "Some things it is better to ensure that you have the data from the source rather than electronic."

"Huh, Sheldon Cooper, a fan of paper-- who knew?"

Sheldon gave Leonard a pointed look and flicked a slice of tomato out of the bun.

There was a moments silence as they all concentrated on eating their dinner.

"Did you know," Sheldon started but was quickly cut off by moans from Howard, Leonard and Raj.

"I knew it was too good to last!" Howard cried.

"Aw, c'mon!" Leonard moaned. "Sheldon, we want to eat in peace."

"All in good time, Leonard," Sheldon glared disapprovingly. "Did you know that this October was the coldest on record for Nebraska?"

Penny looked up. "What?"

"Oh yes," Sheldon looked smug. "This October period was the coldest on record, with those records going back almost 123 years. That's since 1887." He said to clarify for Penny's bad maths skills. "The previous record low maximum was 41 degrees set in 1987 only this year it was 38 degrees. Hardly bikini weather as I'm sure you'll agree. One Saturday the North Platte airport received 13.8 inches of snow which is not only a daily record but more than the city has ever received in the whole of the month."

Raj leaned over and whispered in Howard's ear. Howard nodded. "Yeah, since when did Sheldon become a meteorologist?"

Penny frowned. "He didn't say anything about outer space, what have meteors got to do with anything?"

Sheldon sighed. "Really, Penny. Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere which focuses mainly on weather processes. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the eighteenth century."

Penny sighed. "Leonard?"

"Weathermen," he said around a mouthful of food. "Meteorology is the study of weather."

"I said that!" Sheldon put down his burger. "If you're not going to listen--"

"You'll shut up?" Howard perked up. "Please, oh please."

Sheldon refused to dignify that with an answer. Instead he turned to Penny. "In the year 2008 Nebraska had 3.8 Murders per 100,000 people, ranking the state as having the 31st highest rate for Murder. Also in 2008 there were 32.7 reported Forced Rapes per 100,000 people. 67.0 per 100,000 for Robbery. 194.3 Aggravated Assaults and 492 burglaries."

"What are you saying?" Howard demanded.

"That Nebraska is cold and the people aren't much warmer. Two very good reasons to avoid it." He eyed Penny who suddenly realized what he was doing and gave him a smile.

"Reasons noted."

Sheldon smiled smugly and returned to his burger.

Comic book night could have ended a disaster when Leonard's car developed a minor fault, had it not been for Penny.

With the threat of Sheldon spending hours knocking on her door she had quickly caved and agreed to drive them to their usual Wednesday night entertainment.

Sheldon, of course, got to sit in the front whilst Leonard, Wolowitz and Raj squeezed together in the back seat.

"Raj!" Howard squealed, "If you get any closer I'm gonna hafta insist on a proposal."

"Here's a proposal," Leonard snapped, "get your elbow outta my ribs before I throw up in your lap."

"Hey, hey, hey, no vomit in my car!" Penny ordered. She shot a quick glare over her shoulder leading Sheldon to gasp in horror.

"Eyes on the road, Penny, please!" He gripped the door handle tightly. "You know most traffic accidents happen because of insufficient attention being paid."

"Oh sorry, sweetie," Penny said absently. "I was –hey jerkoff, my right of way!"

Sheldon closed his eyes as their driver leaned out of the window and screamed at another vehicle.

"God!" Penny pulled her head back in and swerved to avoid him. "I hate all this traffic. Guys thinking they own the damned road. Every asshole has a license and it seems every single one of them is on the road when I am!"

Sheldon opened his mouth but Leonard, in a surprising act of self preservation slammed a foot into the back of his chair, forcing Sheldon's mind away from whatever retort he was about to give.

"It just seems like there are a lot of people on the road," Howard piped up. "But, as a mathematician

the numbers of people in California verses actual drivers isn't that high."

"Unlike Nebraska where there are 1775 people and 1331 licensed drivers."

Penny shot him a look. "You're making that up!"

Sheldon was scandalized at the very implication. "I am not. Despite your disbelief the statistics speak for themselves. There are almost as many drivers as people in Nebraska and," he smirked, "a higher rate of hit and runs since the wide open spaces of Nebraska mean that you can get away with it more often."


"No," he grinned, "Bazinga."

When Sheldon walked into Penny's apartment unannounced he was far more concerned with the piece of paper he was holding than the social conventions of courtesy.

That changed when the immortal words filtered into his consciousness.

"--supplement: the search parties have returned to the ship and the Columbus is on its way back, I have been compelled to abandon the search."


The blonde sitting on the edge of the sofa jumped. "Holy crap on a cracker, Sheldon!" She pressed her hand against her chest and grabbed for the remote, quickly switching the TV off. "Warn a girl before you scare me back to puberty."

"Despite the common use, no one has ever regressed due to fear, Penny." He stared at her oddly. "What are you watching?"

Penny colored. "Nothing."

He gave her a pointed look and reached for the remote. Penny tucked it behind her back nervously.

Sheldon merely held out his hand and waited.

She pouted but couldn't resist the Cooper concentrated call. She handed him the remote and sat back waiting for him to uncover her secret.

He flicked on the screen to see the star ship Enterprise orbiting a large green nebula.

A very awkward star ship with stilted graphics.

Early Star Trek.

Very early.

He watched as a young Leonard Nimoy refused to have a burial for a dead member of a search party due to outside dangers; ape men and a lack of fuel.

Sheldon eyed Penny who had a very guilty look on her face.

"I didn't know there was a Star Trek on today," he looked at his watch, "or at this time."

He looked up. "And I always know if there is going to be a Star Trek on, Penny. Do you have some hitherto unknown access to a revised television schedule?"

With a wince Penny picked up another remote and pressed a button causing Captain James T. Kirk to pause mid rant.


As in not live TV.

His gaze wandered until he caught site of a small gray tin hidden under some papers on her table. Penny saw his attention fix but before she could move he had pushed aside a sheaf of papers and dug out a battered DVD case.

He held it up. "Penny, since when do you have Star Trek on DVD?"

"I don't," Penny denied.

Sheldon shook the box and then pointed to the screen. "The evidence suggest otherwise."

She sagged, realizing that there was no way Sheldon was going to go anywhere until he had got his explanation. "Fine. I was at the mall and there was this sale, I was looking at the shoes-"


She ignored the sarcasm evident and continued, "but the ones I liked weren't on sale so I was like major bummed and wanted to check out a chick flick. You know some ridiculous 'he said she said' feelgood movie. Anyway there was a sale on there as well and, well," she shrugged, "they had the very first season of Star Trek for less than ten dollars. I liked the latest movie and I was always curious about what you guys found so interesting about whole series so I bought it."

She lifted her chin as if challenging him.

Sheldon set the remote on the table and sat down. "Why did you try to hide it?"

"What, so you guys can mock me? 'Isn't Penny cute? Watching Star Trek, trying to keep up?'" She folded her arms defiantly and Sheldon frowned.

"Actually, Penny, I think its commendable."

She searched his face for signs of sarcasm or derision but found none.

She bit her lip. "Really, you don't think it's kinda pathetic?"

"Nonsense. When you don't understand something doing research enables you to gain a better grasp of the specifics and the motives of the subjects. Actually it's very scientific of you, logical even."

Penny hid a smile.

"Are you enjoying it?" He sat back on the sofa.

"Kinda. I mean I'm on the fourth disc already. I don't get a lot of it, the science mumbo-jumbo is kinda confusing but I do like watching the characters. From an actors point of view it's kinda cool, I guess."

"Oh yes." Sheldon reached over and switched on the show again, settling back to watch with her.

"This episode is called Galileo Seven," he muttered and she nodded.

"Uh huh. Spock's first command. It isn't going too well though," she offered him some popcorn. "The rest of them don't take him seriously."

"I know," he sighed heavily. "It's a burden to bear with the superior minded among us."

They watched for a good while longer before Sheldon spoke again. "I must admit to liking the earlier episodes for their simplicity. The science mumbo-jumbo, as you call it, was very linear. They tried not to fabricate too many unnecessary details and kept most inventions to possible realities."

"I guess," Penny shrugged. "I haven't watched any of the later ones yet."

"Oh they're good," Sheldon exclaimed enthusiastically. "Picard is an excellent Captain."

"Good, because Captain Kirk is a pig."

Sheldon's eyes opened wide in shock at her effrontery. "What?!"

"A sexist lecherous pig; every single episode so far he's tried to get laid. Even in that one episode he was flirting with a kid-- barely in her teens. Gross."

Sheldon thought about it. "I suppose, he was a product of his time. The sixties, despite their reputation were still a very sexist era."

The episode finally came to a close with the crew all back on the bridge laughing. Laughing at one crew member in particular.

Penny bit her lip wondering whether or not to say it. But honesty won out. "I like Spock."

His eyebrows shot up into his hairline. "Really?"

"Uh huh, he's cool. Keeps his head in a crisis and all that. But more than that." She bit her lip. "Okay so he doesn't get why people act the way they do. I mean all through the episode he was making the logical choice but nothing worked, right?"

"Correct, because humans aren't logical. I too have noticed this."

Penny nodded. "It's sad though because he takes so much from the rest of the crew. They keep teasing him about being half human which he can't help and doesn't even wanna admit to. They're being prejudiced and they can't even see it. It's cruel. They should just accept him for who he is and not try to make him more human."

Sheldon shifted uncomfortably away from her. "But they're his friends."

Penny scoffed. "Some friends. They were yelling at him because he didn't have the same responses as they do. They know it's an insult to him to call him human but they do it anyway and Kirk knows that Spock's embarrassed about talking about emotions and every single episode he brings it up. His friends are jerks."

Sheldon swallowed and stared at his hands.

Penny went over her words and realized how much they mirrored Sheldon and the boys. She shifted and watched him carefully. "It doesn't mean that they don't like him. They do, they just don't understand him."

"No," he said quietly. "But Spock doesn't have any other choice. He has to socialize with these people because there is no one else. He holds them in affection, though."

"Like when he went to help Captain Pike by taking him to those big head people who made him live in his dreams?"

That got a smile as Sheldon gave her an approving look. "Oh well done, Penny."

He sighed. "I have to go now, Leonard is going to the store and he needs me to check over his grocery list again, I can't trust him to have written everything down correctly. The last time I let him go on his own he bought crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth." He shook his head in disbelief.

"Ok, sweetie," Penny paused. "Why did you come over anyway?"

Sheldon was on his feet when he spoke and he glanced back down. His face was curiously blank. "Oh, I just wanted to tell you that The University of Nebraska at Omaha football ended its 2009 season with a loss to West Texas A&M at the Kanza Bowl at Hummer Sports Park."

Penny blinked. "What?"

"It's very simple. You enjoy watching the primitive showmanship of the football season. Or at least watching men in little shorts run around."

She couldn't argue with that.

"Well, if you want to watch a satisfactory game then the Nebraska team won't do. They seem to discover hitherto untold ways of losing. You'd be better suited watching the UC team. Disgusting bunch of Neanderthals that they are."

Her lips twitched. "Really?"

He nodded as he headed for the door. "I do hope you are keeping track of all these reasons, Penny."

She counted them off on her fingers. "It's cold, the people are mean, crime is bad, traffic is awful and the football team is lousy. I got it."

"Very well." He paused with his hand on the doorknob. "It occurs to me that you might want another insight on your travels into the mythos of Star Trek, I have no doubt the experience would be beneficial to you and I would relish having another persons opinion into the characters development. Perhaps I could offer my tutorship whilst watching several installments in one helping?"

He waited while Penny worked that out. "You want to do Star Trek marathons with me?"

He smiled. "See, its already making you smarter."

And on that backhanded compliment he left.

On Anything Can Happen Thursday Sheldon blew all of their minds by suggesting that they visit the fair.

"I thought you hated fairs?" Leonard said as they paid the entrance fare and were immediately buffered by the crowds of people.

"I never said that," Sheldon grimaced as someone touched him. "While I do find their attempts at entertainment to be puerile, they do serve a purpose."

"Yeah to get kids hyped up on candy and then throw up on the rides," Penny's words were softened by her delighted smile as she watched the lights flash on the dodgems.

"No, the fair is full of possibilities," Howard leaned towards Penny. "The love train, top of the Ferris wheel."

"House of horrors," she edged away from him and Sheldon frowned.

"Wolowitz, remind me to test your hormone levels. It appears that you are going through some sort of belated adolescence."

"Just because I have sexual desires doesn't make me retarded emotionally," Howard protested over Penny's laughter.

"No, but the manner on which you insist on regaling us with evidence of those desires is not just-"

"Gross, offensive, disgusting?" Penny offered.

"-juvenile," Sheldon gave her a small look for interrupting his train of thought, "but almost suffixed with an almost exaggerated bravado. It suggests an attempt at overcompensation."

Leonard and Penny giggled while Howard opened and closed his mouth.

"Hey!" Howard elbowed Raj. "Back me up here, buddy."

Raj shook his head apologetically and nodded to Penny's presence as an explanation for his silence.

"Well, just so you know I am not overcompensating for anything!" he spoke loudly and more than one passing woman stared at him. He spread his arms. "Howard Wolowitz is more than enough for any woman."

"Some might say too much?" Penny whispered to Sheldon. The side of his lip twitched into an almost smile.

Howard stared disgustedly at his tall friend. "Fine, be that way. I'm going to go and stand by the hall of mirrors waiting for girls with low self esteem to stand by the fat mirror."

Raj bowed and happily followed the strange little man.

"Well, someone better make sure that they-- oh hey Stephanie!"

Penny looked up to see the redheaded doctor that Leonard had dated a while ago standing in front of them.

"What an amazing coincidence." The way he stressed the last two words made it abundantly clear that it was in no way amazing and even less of a coincidence. This was proven by the redhead's first words.

"Oh, weren't we supposed to meet here?" She looked down at her watch. "My shift finished a little earlier than I expected."

Ignoring Leonard's awkward grimace Penny smiled widely. "No trauma to deal with tonight?"

"Nope," Stephanie laughed, "for once people managed to keep from putting things up their butts out of curiosity."

Sheldon frowned. "What sort of things?"

"Pens, screwdrivers, you name it, I've pulled it out. Even a hamster once." She laughed, "The guy tried to convince me that he'd sat on it."

Sheldon's eyes went wide. "Really? Well that's not hygienic at all. He could catch a chill walking around naked. And not looking where he was sitting was plainly perilous!"

Penny and Stephanie shared a look of equal amusement.

"I'll explain it to him," Penny said, "you guys go have fun."

Leonard looked between Sheldon and Penny.

"Well, we really don't have to--" Leonard started but was cut off as his new girlfriend pulled him away.

"Yes, we really do."

"Oh, okay. Bye guys."

They watched as Leonard was dragged away. Penny was glad that the two of them were going to make another go of it. Anything to stop those god-awful puppy dog looks he got whenever Penny brought home a new guy. Not that he had any reason to give her those looks recently; her sex life was a quiet as her bank account.

"Just you and me then," Penny said. "So, why did you want you come to the fair?"

"I didn't."

Penny was startled. "But sweetie, when Leonard asked what we were going to do you said to come here."

"I did."

"But you didn't actually want to come here."


She frowned. "Ok, I don't understand."

"California has fairs. California has sunshine and bars and more opportunities for employment for would be actresses. California has the best universities and the Rose Bowl parade and the Hollywood sign and Arnold Schwarzenegger for Governor."

Penny waited and he didn't disappoint.

"Whilst Omaha, Nebraska does have interesting historical aspects and quite the view, California is far and away the better choice in terms of culture, weather and entertainment. Also educational matters but I assume those to be of little interest to you." He sniffed as if that was incomprehensible to him. "Surely there would be something here that you would miss were you to continue in this ill advised venture of your and return home."

Penny bit her lip. "I guess there are things that I would miss."

Completely missing the look she gave him from the corner of her eye, Sheldon preened.

"I knew it."

"But just because you know you'll miss them doesn't mean that there aren't enough reasons to go. When I was moving here I knew I'd miss my mom and the creek and my dad and my friends but I still came out here. Just because I'll miss you guys and some stuff around here doesn't mean that its not in my best interests to try."

Sheldon thought about her words. "So what was your compelling reason to leave Nebraska if there was so much as to stay for?"

She shrugged. "I wanted to find myself, to get away from family pressure and do something with my life." She laughed but there was no amusement in it. "I guess I had the same problem then as now. I didn't feel like I had a place. Mom had dad, my friends were going off to college and my sister was getting along with her fiancee. I had no one and nothing so I left to find something."

He was impossibly still. "And you haven't found whatever it is that you are looking for?"

"I don't even know what it is." She gave him a bittersweet smile and then shook herself. "God, listen to me! This is a funfair, we need to go do fun fair things." She grinned at him. "Wanna go on the Ferris wheel?"

"Oh good lord no!" Sheldon actually shuddered. "I'd rather lick a cat, which, with my allergies, could prove fatal. Do you know how dangerous those things are? It wasn't even intended to be an object of amusement. The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. as a landmark for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago."

Although he couldn't be persuaded to go on any rides Sheldon did surprise Penny by his addiction to cotton candy.

Knock knock knock


Knock knock knock


Knock knock knock


"So what now?" Even as she opened the door he stormed straight past, another piece of paper in his hands.

For the past two weeks he had shown up every day with some fascinating new fact about Nebraska's crime rate or smog level or literacy rate. When he wasn't denigrating her birth state he was extolling the virtues of California.

Last week he had held up movie night by reciting every single actor or actress originally from California who had won an award.

Raj and Howard had looked at him like he was crazy.

He wasn't- his mother had had him tested.

It was sweet in a typically Sheldon way of being completely anal and controlling.

"So, what now?" she repeated pointing to the piece of paper. "Higher death rate for Nebraskans? Californian pensions are higher?"

Sheldon swallowed hard and his hands tightened, scrunching up the piece of paper. "No. With your reaction it appears that logic and statistics aren't going to change your mind." He looked nervous for a second and then plastered his bland mask over the top. "As with the majority of our population it appears that sentiment rather than reason will be the deciding factor."

Penny leaned her hip against the kitchen table and crossed her arms over her chest. "Go on."

He sniffed for a moment and looked pained, like she had just bested him at Halo again.

Sheldon cleared his throat and held the paper in front of him. "From Koothrappoli: Dear Penny, Sheldon has told me that you were thinking of leaving and asked me to give you a reason not to. If you stay I promise that I will try to speak to you when I am not drunk. I am getting better at not freaking out when you are walking around like a Shiska goddess with beautiful hair. In India you would be worshiped. Anyway, please don't go to Nebraska." Sheldon sighed. "His intentions were good even if the execution was below standard. Thank Spock you don't have to decipher his handwriting."

Penny's mouth opened and closed but Sheldon didn't look up. "Howard's I have to edit because," his face flushed, "well, I think he reads fan-fiction for the porn content. To the luscious... uh... Etc etc Penny. Ahem. Why are you thinking about going away? Is it because our love is not... um..." Sheldon's eyes skipped down the page. "... the heavy winter coats of Nebraska will hide your... Oh, good lord, I'm not reading that." the redness deepened until his cheeks were scarlet. " la la please Penny don't leave." He cleared his throat and glanced hurriedly at her amused face. "That man needs a cold shower and possibly castration."

"I agree."

"Leonard should be far more acceptable, Dear Penny, when you first arrived it was like someone had blown life into the building. I never before realized how stagnated and routine our lives were until you walked in and forced us to open our eyes. Now, instead of going through the motions I feel like I am really living and, even though we didn't work out as a couple I will always want you in my life as my friend. I know I reacted badly when you said that you were thinking about leaving but I was so shocked. Having you here has made us all so alive that the thought of it all becoming dark when you leave is unbearable. You make us all so much better, you humanize us all, including Sheldon which I thought was impossible. But it's not worth it of you're not as happy as we are. So Penny, do what makes you happy and just know that we will always be there for you if you need us. Best wishes, Leonard."

Penny couldn't speak, her throat worked but nothing came out.

Sheldon folded up the piece of paper. "He can be quite the poet."

She nodded.

"Penny." He stopped, frowned, started again. "Penny-"

"What about you, Sheldon?" She gestured to the paper. "Aren't you going to read yours out?"

"Oh I didn't write one."

Penny felt like she'd been slapped.

"I tried but it seemed to come out all wrong," he frowned again. "Am I correct in thinking that these expressions are of more value to you than statistics and would have more bearing on your decision?"

"Yes, sweetie. Hearing people say that they want you to stay is better than listening to dry statistics... although the crime rates have been playing on my mind," she added with gentle humor.

"Very well," his hands grasped the paper until she could see the white of his knuckle, "the reason I did not attempt to put down my motives on paper is that they do not, in of themselves, make sense. For example the arrhythmic tachycardia which I seem to develop whenever you sit by me. The elevated cutaneous blood flow which is both disconcerting and embarrassing whenever your apparel is less than modest. Not to mention my overdeveloped adrenal glands. In totality your continued presence has a negative effect on my physical and mental health."

Penny was totally confused. "Sweetie, I'm not following... are you saying I make you ill?"

"No, Penny, I'm saying you drive me crazy. I can no longer eat a cheeseburger unless you have made it. I can no longer order only one tangerine chicken portion. Even if you are not there I save one egg roll. I can not sleep until I have heard your door close and know that you are home safely. I worry about your blinking check engine light and have drafted you into all of my Apocalypse plans-- incidentally, your emergency readiness pack is in my closet and only requires a few of your clothes to be complete. You best me at Halo and I don't mind. You come into my room and I don't mind. I can tell your mood when I don't even understand Leonards! The seat on the sofa to my right is yours. Penny," he looked desperately at her shocked face, "you have become so entwined with my life that the very idea of your not being there makes me sick."

"I'm just part of your routine," she said weakly, her mouth dry and heart racing.

"Would that that were so," he shook his head. "Penny, you've become my best friend. You sing to me when I'm sick, you drive me to the comic book store, you share your meals and your apartment. Even though you don't understand me you don't disparage me like the others and you take time to explain things to me." He swallowed. " It's not like what I feel for Missy or Me Maw or even Leonard. I wasn't sure, so I looked it up. These feelings, these emotions I- I-,"

Sheldon straightened determinedly. "I love you."

Her jaw dropped. "Wha-"

"I love you," he repeated firmly. "Please don't leave."

Holy crap on a cracker. Sheldon loved her, was in love with her?

She'd have said it was impossible, that Dr. Whack-a-doodle didn't have feelings like that but she knew differently.

Anyone who still prayed before bedtime even though they didn't believe, just to appease their mother had feelings.

Anyone who spent time trying to work out why he'd offended someone so as not to repeat the mistake had feelings.

Anyone who spent time thinking of reasons, researching reasons why she shouldn't leave, had feelings.

Anyone who dragged himself to a fair-- a place he genuinely despised-- just to offer her another reason to stay, had feelings.

Sheldon Cooper had feelings and they were for Penny.


As her silence stretched she could see him getting more and more uncomfortable. He was way, way, way outside his comfort zone but he was willing to stay there if it meant anything to her.

And suddenly it was everything.

She closed the distance between them and reached for his hand. He didn't even hesitate before grabbing hers, his long fingers clenched tightly.


"That's all the reason I needed."

All tension drained out of him. "Oh, good. I was starting to run out of statistics." He shifted nervously. "I'm not familiar with the social protocol now. Do I leave?"

"You could," Penny grinned and wrapped her hands in his batman shirt. "But there is one guaranteed way of changing your mind."

"Oh?" his eyebrow raised, "what is that."

She leaned up on tiptoes and gave Sheldon the best reason for him to stay.

I don't think you'll like it
I hear that city's cold
And the people aren't much warmer
Two good reasons not to go

You fight traffic all day long
Then you gotta pay to park
You have to go around locking all
Your doors there after dark

Don't know why you feel you gotta go somewhere
Have you ever thought about just staying here
If you'll let me I can give you don't you know
Every reason not to go

Their football team is lousy
No matter what they do
You can bet come Sunday
They'll find a way to lose
You'll hate the way the smog
And the buildings block the sky
Got the prices jacked so high
Takes a million to get by

Don't know why you feel you gotta go somewhere
Have you ever thought about just staying here
If you'll let me I can give you don't you know
Every reason not to go

There must be something in this town
You'd be missing if you moved
'Cause I know if you weren't around
I'd be missing you

Don't know why you feel you gotta go somewhere
Have you ever thought about just staying here
I'm in love with you and baby, now you know Every reason not to go
Every reason not to go
Baby, please don't go