I know, I know. What the hell took you so long? I started writing the next chapter, and it was always so forced. It never flowed naturally, but finally, I thought—why not reverse the order of the last three chapters, and Voila! Inspiration and it's not forced anymore. Thank heavens!
The Psychic Vortex Continuum
Chapter Eight: The Soul-Mate Intuition
Penny sat quietly, bleary-eyed, next to a (for once) quiet Sheldon in a yellow vinyl booth, next to a large window watching the sun come up over Vegas. He was twirling his spoon in some oatmeal, while she poured syrup on her pancakes. Both were waiting for coffee to kick in, and both were sincerely hoping that the waitress would leave the carafe next time.
What had started out as a weekend trip with the whole crew had turned into a bachelor's party for Howard and bachelorette party for Bernadette (who were getting married in several months) which had turned into a wedding for Raj.
There was no great plot line, like in the Hangover, no great love affair. The simple truth was that Raj had gotten severely drunk, as had Leonard and Howard and Amy and Bernadette, and met a girl named Divya who was quite beautiful. At some point, but Divya and Raj had begun talking. Penny and Sheldon had both been absent, as Sheldon had no desire to gamble or drink. Penny had begged him to join her at Cirque du Soliel, and he'd joined her willingly. They'd been busy watching feats of strength and listening to beautiful music, while the others had decided to get their Vegas on.
After walking out of the theater, they'd quickly been absconded by their friends, and the girls had whisked off to go see Chippendale dancers. Penny had quickly gotten to know Divya, learning a lot about her in a short amount of time, while Bernadette and Amy had giggled over all of the future-bride memorabilia that they had found so quickly. Penny, not so enthusiastic, and Divya, wide-eyed and blushing, had refused to partake in such typical behavior. Instead, they'd discussed careers.
Divya, it seemed, was a closet Sci-fi fan, and loved Penny's show. She was also a kindergarten teacher back in Pasadena and had been visiting her sister—a Vegas show girl—when she'd quite literally bumped into Raj, who'd been drunk enough to talk to her. Divya was small, about Bernadette's height, and just as voluptuous as the blond. Her hair was midnight black, her skin the color of an iced latte, and her eyes a dark green that was so striking, even Penny had lost her train of thought at first glance. She was also incredibly shy and felt like such an outsider until Penny had come along and drawn her into the fold.
As the night progressed, she'd also learned that Divya was under a lot of pressure from her parents back in India to get married. Penny had brought up Raj's parents, and how they were the same way, when Amy—God bless her Vodka-addled brain—had suggested that Raj and Divya get married. For convenience.
Five texts, one dress shop, and a wedding later, Divya, whose last name she still didn't know, had become Mrs. Rajesh Koothrapoli. The mostly-sober Penny and the completely-sober Sheldon had done their best to delay the match, but had been outargued (or at least, there was no arguing with drunk people) by their six counterparts.
And now, neither of them able to sleep, Penny and Sheldon had gone for breakfast at dawn.
It was looking to be a long day.
"Do you think they'll stay married?" Sheldon asked, muted. It was obvious that he was exhausted, but he still remained civil, as she'd shut the others up about him being a stick in the mud.
Penny let out a little hum, and let her mind drift to the marriage. She didn't suppose it was too unlike her Pap and Mamaw.
Penny, at fourteen, was the oldest left at home. Tammy and Jonah were in Washington DC, while Johnny had gone off to Tulane to study medicine. Kitt and Nell, who were often left in her care, were five and adorable.
However, Penny found herself staring off into space just as often as she could be found doing anything else. Thinking her daughter bored of being home all summer, Lexa had packed Penny up and sent her across the state to her Pap and Mamaw's house.
Penny, as of late, had become overly concerned with boys and her future. She was also interested in hearing all the juicy details of falling in love, which was why she was staring at her grandmother's picture albums so keenly and had been for days.
"Whatcha lookin' at Mini-Penny?" Mamaw asked, walking into the bedroom to put away some linens.
"Mamaw, why don't you and Pap have any pictures from before you were married?"
Mamaw blinked, and smiled. "We didn't know each other very long before we got married."
Penny frowned and looked up at her, away from her mother's baby pictures. "How long did you know one another?"
"Three days!" Penny shouted. "How-"
Her grandmother sent her a stern look.
"Sorry Mamaw. But-"
"It was during the war. You grandfather was a marine in the South Pacific. I was a nurse with the Navy. We were sent in to care for the wounded, and I was the nurse caring for your grandfather. He'd been shot twice in the chest, and he was almost finished healing when I took over his care. I spent three days in his company, and we fought fiercely."
Penny's mouth must have dropped open, because her Mamaw laughed. Penny had never seen her grandparents fight—ever. They'd been married over fifty years, and no one had ever mentioned them ever fighting once.
"Oh, we had a time. I pecked at him like a bird after a squirrel, and he pecked back just as bad. For three days we nearly tore the place down, yelling and fussing. I'd leave his bedside shaking I was so mad, and he'd grumble for hours about that silly chit of a nurse who ordered him about like a four-star general. Oh, we were horrible."
Mamaw smiled softly, and sadly. "We took fire. I ran into his room and got him out of bed and on the floor. He hadn't heard the shots, and was thinking that I'd finally snapped. He was just about to really start in when he saw how afraid I was. Then the bullets started flying in from the planes, and he covered my body with his own and whispered nonsense in my ear the whole time. When it was over, he kissed me just as gently as he could, and asked if I was alright. I burst into tears. It was the first time I'd every really experienced war. I'd seen the casualties, but not first hand what caused those injuries. He kissed me 'til I calmed down, and told me ever so sweetly not to worry, he was going to take care of me."
Penny waited for her to continue, wanting the next part of the story. "And then?"
Mamaw, caught up in her remembering smiled. "I asked him how on earth he could possibly take care of me. He only asked if I had a sweetheart back home. I said no, as I had joined the navy nurses right out of high school, and had left no one behind and only had my folks to write to. He said that that was just fine, that we'd get married just as soon as he could find a preacher, and I'd never have to be afraid again. He found a preacher not two hours later, and just like that, your Pap and I were married. Of course, he was shipped off the next day to Okinawa and I was stuck with more patients, but once everything was all said and done, we met up in San Francisco and boarded a train back to Omaha as man and wife. We never once looked back."
"Mamaw...how did you know?"
"Know what baby?"
"Know that Pap was it. Know that you weren't making the biggest mistake of your life."
Mamaw smiled and caressed her hair. "You just know Mini-Penny. For the first time...perhaps ever, I felt more safe and more wanted than I ever had. Even lying on the ground trying to keep from getting killed, I wasn't afraid in his arms. He was a good man, and he was so serious about taking care of me. It felt more right to say those vows to your Pap than it did to do anything else in my life. I've had three beautiful children—your mother being the last and my only daughter—and I've never once regretted a moment of my life. If I could live it over again, I wouldn't do anything different."
"I hope I can love like that."
"You will, Mini-Penny. Just remember, baby, that soul mates are for real. Wait on yours, and you won't regret it. You'll just know."
"Penny?" Penny jumped a little and turned to look at Sheldon.
He didn't look irritated at being slightly ignored, which might have been a first. His eyes, though, were just as bloodshot as hers and his mind probably as numb.
"I asked, do you think they'll stay married, or should we look into annulment laws?"
Penny frowned, pensively. Last night, as hard as she'd fought Divya and Raj about waiting until they were sober, she found herself remembering not their drunken state, but the way they'd glanced at each other. The knowing looks, the sweet gestures, the way Raj—the consummate drunken ass—had been so considerate of the tiny, beautiful Indian woman who shyly watched him with such joy and care. The way their hands had constantly connected, and that chaste kiss that left an ache in Penny's soul for wanting something so similar.
"You know Moonpie, I think they're going to be okay. I think...I think it's going to last."
Sheldon merely raised a brow, indicating his lack of belief in such a thing, but did not argue.
It was sometime later that they'd arrived back at their hotel to find Raj and Divya contentedly holding hands and smiling at each other, whispering secrets.
Sheldon merely looked at Penny and asked, "How did you know?"
She smiled softly at him, and gently, scared she might annoy him, straightened his hair. His gaze only intensified and something in his eyes shifted. "You just know Sheldon. You just know."
He nodded, and rather than join the newly married couple, followed Penny to the quiet of their rooms, intent on actually getting some sleep this time.
I'll try and get the next one out this weekend. No promises.