Oh my God, I know I'm supposed to be writing "The Twin Bed Affinity," but this came into my head and wouldn't go away. I swear it was going to be a drabble, but it exploded without my consent and now it is almost six pages long.
This is my version of the "makeover" story. Not to say I don't love those to death. I would read them all day and all night until I went crazy from joy and sleep deprivation.
I have no beta, so I apologize for any weird errors.
EDIT: Dashakay from LJ gave me a pretty big correction! It is Oedipus complex, not Elektra complex, that Leonard is experiencing. Thanks!
There was something satisfyingly incongruous, Sheldon thought, about playing an impromptu game of one-on-one Halo in formal wear.
Although Sheldon personally felt that winning a Nobel Prize would mean he would get to play the whole time. The others didn't agree; thus, Leonard and Raj were currently engaged in a fierce battle to the death while Sheldon moped in his spot, waiting for Penny and Bernadette to finish "doing their hair."
With a cautious thumb and forefinger, Sheldon touched the smooth, expensive wool of his new black suit. He preferred the familiar scratchy texture of his plaid sport coat. It was unfair that Leonard was allowed to wear that burgundy corduroy monstrosity while he, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, was forced out of his comfort zone.
"Stop picking at it," scolded Penny, giving him a firm slap on his hand. She leaned over and adjusted his tie, which was also new. (It was dark blue and sober and appropriately patterned and 100% silk. Sheldon had never owned anything like it in his life, nor did he ever wish to, but Penny had proved to be a noisy and therefore persuasive shopper.)
Leonard hit the pause button, ignoring Raj's silent protest, and put down his controller. "You look nice," he told Penny, smiling. "I like the pearls."
Penny put a hand to her neck, touching her necklace with a little grimace. "I look like a soccer mom," she complained.
Indeed, she did. Although the black sleeveless dress was tasteful and expensive, not to mention oddly familiar, it looked out of place on their normally brightly-plumed neighbor. The outfit was more suited for an elegant older woman, and Penny was neither of these things.
"You look fine," insisted Leonard, his nasal whine more repugnant than usual.
Penny mumbled something unintelligible. Unlike her usual bangs or frivolous curls, her conservative hairstyle did nothing to obscure her face, which was miserable.
Howard and Bernadette exchanged an uneasy glance. Raj fearfully retreated to the bathroom.
"There are going to be a lot of important people at this party," Leonard continued. "Sheldon Cooper, Nobel Laureate. We have to represent. Which means we all have to dress like professional adults and behave."
With some horror, Sheldon came to a sudden realization: Penny was dressed like Dr. Beverly Hofstadter. In fact, the dress she wore looked familiar because, dear Lord Jesus, Beverly had taken a number of publicity photos in a similar frock. And, though Sheldon viewed pop-psychology as hokum, this situation was all kinds of sick.
It was instinct. Barely aware he was even moving, Sheldon stood and crossed the room within seconds, seizing Penny's forearms with enough force to make her gasp in surprise.
"No," he grated out, and propelled her across the hall and into her apartment.
Penny's eyes were wide, and her mouth still hadn't closed. Her normally standoffish neighbor had just bodily dragged her into her bedroom, slamming the door loudly with his foot- basically the modern-day equivalency of being thrown over a muscular shoulder and carried into a cave.
If it had been any other man besides Sheldon, she probably would have had his pants off and her legs wrapped around his waist by now. Instead, she stood in front of her closet, bewildered, because his large warm hands were still clutching her forearms, and it was awfully hard to think with him standing so close.
Don'tthinkaboutsex. "Sheldon, what-"
"You are unhappy," he stated baldly, his breathing loud and harsh in the silence of her bedroom. "Clearly this is due to your disturbing outfit and Leonard's imprudent indulgence of his Oedipus complex."
Sheldon sighed, closing his eyes with impatience, and Penny was close enough to see the individual lashes flutter against his cheeks. "Mommy Issues," he explained, with just the hint of a Texan twang.
"Mommy iss-" Here, Penny's sex drive suddenly died.
"Yes." He paused, examining her face. "You knew," he concluded, after a long pause.
There wasn't any reason to lie, not anymore, so she let her face crumple into a grimace of pure disgust. "Of course I knew, Sheldon. At first I just couldn't put my finger on it, but then I realized, fuck me, Leonard dressed me like his goddamn mother." Yanking her arms out of Sheldon's grasp, she ripped her necklace off and flung it at the wall. It rebounded with an audible clack and landed in a pile of dirty laundry.
"Jewelry doesn't go on the floor, Penny. Jewelry goes in a jewelry box. Surely even you could infer this, as-"
"Oh, who even cares. They're not real, anyway. Do I seem like the kind of girl who owns real pearls?" she screamed, kicking off her sensible black pumps and bursting into tears. "This isn't me. I like me. Why can't I just be me?"
Sheldon, for once, had no answer.
Penny, confused by his sudden silence, looked up and met his eyes. He stared steadily back, just standing there in the new suit and new socks and new shoes she had persuaded him to buy simply by saying how handsome he had looked.
"Oh, my God," she whispered, before taking a few deep shuddering breaths to calm her nerves. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she got to her feet and pulled out a dented cardboard box from underneath her bed. Nestled inside, still folded neatly, were several stacks of Sheldon's old Sheldon-y clothing
His calm facade vanished as his jaw dropped in pure outrage. "You said you threw those away," he accused, as she tossed him a pair of plaid pants, followed by his usual gray striped shirt and horrible, horrible plaid jacket.
"Sheldon, honey, I lied," she replied sweetly. And then, without breaking eye contact, she unzipped her dress, letting it fall to the floor. With one bare foot, she swept it into the corner.
He stood, frozen, clutching his clothes to his chest, as she advanced on him like a tiger approaching her sexy, considerate, sweet Texan prey. Slowly, she drew his tie out of his jacket and loosened it, her quick fingers dancing down the front of his shirt and leaving opened buttons in their wake.
When she reached the waistband of his trousers she lightly leaned her bra-covered breasts against his chest, reaching between their bodies to undo his belt. He was panting, obviously terrified, but also aroused, if what she was feeling pressed against her stomach was any indication. He had long since dropped his change of clothes to the floor.
She hoped she hadn't broken him, she thought, before rising on her toes to press a kiss to the exposed skin at the base of his throat.
The feel of timid fingers on her bare waist halted Penny's single-minded efforts, and she stepped back to view her handiwork. The sight of a rumpled Sheldon, pants and shirt undone and an expression of sheer lust in his eyes almost made her crazy enough to go Junior Rodeo on him (definitely without the castration).
But… there was no way in hell she was going to make him miss the soiree the Caltech physics department was throwing in his honor. He had some well-earned gloating to savor, and besides, Penny had some breaking up to do. You know, with Leonard.
"In case you haven't noticed, we're changing our clothes," she said, enjoying every word, "If you need some privacy, feel free to use my bathroom. Penny and Sheldon are going to your party, in all our whackadoodle glory, and no one is going to stop us."
He opened his mouth, managed a little croak in response, and scurried into her bathroom. A few seconds later, an embarrassed Nobel Laureate reopened the door to reclaim his forgotten clothes from the floor.
Five minutes later, Sheldon had restored enough of his equilibrium to even consider returning to Penny's bedroom. His hands were shaking badly enough that he couldn't even fold his clothes, so he opted to leave the expensive suit and accessories in a wrinkled pile on Penny's unsanitary bathroom floor.
Knock knock knock. "Penny?" Knock knock knock. "Penny?" Knock knock knock. "Penny?"
"Come on out! I'm almost ready!"
"Are you clothed?" he demanded, his heart hammering. To be honest, he was unsure which answer he would most prefer; no, he corrected himself mentally, to be honest, he wanted her naked.
He tentatively stuck his head into the room, ready to shut his eyes at the first sign of indecent flesh, but Penny had been truthful. She was wearing a bright yellow dress with gold shoes and big dangly earrings, and Sheldon had never seen her look happier.
Pulling the last of the pins from her updo, she shook out her hair and smiled. "So, Sheldon, how do I look?"
A series of answers ran through his mind, including with your optical sensors and humanoid and acceptably clothed. But the answer his mouth ended up vocalizing was merely, inexplicably, "Beautiful."
Something in her facial expression softened, and she stepped closer, looking up into his face. "Really?" she asked, wistfully, as if she hadn't been gleefully stripping him of both his garments and carefully constructed defenses mere minutes earlier.
Swallowing, he nervously tracked her movement with his eyes. "Surely you are aware that you are a very attractive woman. This is a topic that has been widely discussed within our social circle, in your presence."
"You think I'm beautiful?" She was smiling even wider now.
Alarm bells were going off in his head. Abort, abort!
So he blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "I saw your soup tattoo again."
"Courage," she corrected, reaching out to smooth down a plaid lapel with a gentle hand.
"That is what you intended; however, the end result was soup." Penny paused, her hand resting just over his heart, which was beating far more rapidly than he would have liked to admit.
"Penny." He had to know. "Why did you let him do it?"
Penny, of course, understood the question he had so poorly and inaccurately phrased. She laughed softly, resting her forehead on his shoulder. "Because," she told him, her voice slightly muffled, "Leonard said I would embarrass you. Nobel Laureates don't show up at parties and awards ceremonies with people like me."
It felt like a fist had closed around his vascular organ. "Untrue," he said, choking back anger and some other painful, complicated emotion he was unable to identify. "You are one of my dearest friends, and-"
Penny looked up at him with a soft, vulnerable expression, and, feeling his face flushing with embarrassment, he backtracked. "As if Leonard would know," he managed to scoff, though his voice sounded abnormal even to his own ears. "It will be a warm Texas afternoon on Europa before Leonard makes any significant contribution to the scientific community."
She let out a little chuckle, and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. "C'mon, sweetie. Let's go celebrate how big your brain is."
The others, standing in the hallway, looked up as Sheldon and Penny emerged from her apartment, resplendent (sort of) in plaid and yellow.
"So … new threads?" Howard asked, confused. Bernadette squeezed his arm.
"Yup!" Penny replied, cheerfully. "This is much better." She smiled up at Sheldon, who, inexplicably, smiled back.
"You look pretty," Leonard offered, but Penny didn't even turn her head in his direction.
Sheldon, however, did spare a sharp glance at his roommate. After all this trouble, the man had the nerve … yet the physical indicators of Leonard's body language implied he was both truthful and oblivious.
He really didn't know, Sheldon realized, and felt himself experience the emotion termed "pity."
"We'd better get going, or we'll be late," Leonard said, moodily, having been rejected by his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend.
"Don't be ridiculous," Sheldon said, mildly, and reached out to clasp Penny's hand in his own, ignoring the shocked (and in the case of Leonard, belligerent) expressions on his friends' faces. "Surely they cannot start the party without me. I'm the guest of honor."
The next day, Sheldon woke up hung over, not in his own bed, and oh good Lord he was sticky. Their non-refundable flight to Sweden was scheduled to leave in less than four hours, and when he informed her of this, Penny merely grunted and rolled over, stealing the remainder of the blanket.
Still, it was the best day of his life.