Originally posted at Paradox, the Sheldon/Penny LiveJournal community, as a gift to menacherie who very generously donated $10 to Haiti relief for a thousand words on the prompt: "Penny has an actual career? Sheldon interaction thrown in."
(Also, thanks to mrsvc for helping me with a line :D)
Sheldon is a little confused when, at eleven on a Saturday night, Penny stalks into his apartment and collapses across two cushions of their couch. After a moment, she takes the striped pillow off of his spot and lays her head upon it.
And Sheldon's confused because while this isn't an uncommon experience, it usually is accompanied by some form of inebriation, or at least a brewing temper tantrum due to another disagreeable date. And she appears perfectly sober (if her steadiness in those truly terrifying shoes is anything to go by) and doesn't look upset (as far as he is able to tell), just tired.
Cup of warm milk in hand, he stares at her from the kitchen.
Sheldon does not know what this means.
(He is somewhat able to decipher an attempt at English this time.)
"Why are you on my couch?"
Sheldon's learned that sometimes such vague inquiries simply indicate that the other party in the conversation is preparing an answer, and so he decides to wait another four seconds until he repeats himself.
One, two, thr—
"Your frun door's closer'n mine is," she finally mutters, most of her mouth pressed into his pillow. He frowns at this.
"That is my pillow."
"So comfy too." Penny tightens her hands around it, digging some heinous red talons into the fabric.
Sheldon continues to look at her from the kitchen, his brain working quickly in an attempt to calibrate the information.
Penny is wearing extremely high red shoes with pointy, fatal-appearing heels, stockings that seem better suited for catching tuna, a short black skirt made of cheap-appearing leather, and one of those red tops that bears her midriff and ties around the back of her neck. Her hair is up with tight curls draping against her neck and the top of her shoulders. He cannot see her face, but he imagines it done up like he's seen before.
It almost offends his sensibilities. Sheldon remembers his mother sending Missy back to her room to change for wearing much better.
"Penny?" he asks again.
At this point, he doesn't even make an attempt to understand her concept of English.
"Penny, may I ask why—" He redirects. "Are you going out? Tonight?"
(And if his mother asks, this never happened—but he actually prays to the Lord that she doesn't start singing that song again.)
"Ugh, you kidding me?" Her words are clearer now, and she puts her hands on either side of herself in a push-up position and struggles to be upright. Then she starts the process of removing her shoes.
Sheldon is unsure as to what to do, or say, or think. As before, he's very confused.
"Look at these! Look at these!" she suddenly brandishes the red shoe at him, and despite the fact he is approximately fifteen feet away from her, Sheldon jumps for fear of the probability that it may fly from her fingers and into his eyeball.
"Six hours! Six hours I was in these, dancing to the same music, against the same asshole, in the same place, in an outfit that I would be shot for wearing back home, and for what?" she cries.
Sheldon assumes it's for money, but he suspects he's wrong.
"For literally two seconds of screen time, Sheldon! Two seconds! In some stupid—ass—!" Penny groans and literally throws the shoes over her shoulder, causing Sheldon to spill his warm (and rapidly cooling) milk all over his hand in shock and indignation.
"Penny!" After wiping his hand, he hurries across the living room and picks up the offending items, holding them gingerly between one thumb and forefinger. "Have you no respect for—"
Sheldon turns to affix an appropriately angry stare on her, but she is no longer visible.
Cautious, he backs up until his back is nearly against the door to the coat closet. "If you jump out at me from behind the couch again, I will be very upset."
One second passes.
Then he turns around, eyes the coat closet warily, and moves away from that.
"If you jump out at me from the interior of the closet again, I will—"
"Cool it, Sheldon, do I look in the mood for jumping?"
Whether she's in the mood or not, the sound of her voice has the same effect.
And drops the shoes, forcing him to unnecessarily bend down again to pick them up.
When he straightens and sees what Penny is wearing now he very nearly has an aneurysm.
"THOSE ARE MY TUESDAY PAJAMAS, PENNY."
"Uh-huh." For some unfathomable reason, she sniffs the cuff and then does an odd roll over the back of the couch in order to land on the cushions.
Sheldon hears her sigh.
"Leonard is closer to your size," he finally settles on, after his face goes through a long series of twitches.
"Yup. But that would be weird. And now my hands and feet are covered. Good night."
"Not 'good night.' I forbid you from wearing them."
"Yeah?" Penny sits up, giving him one of her stares. "What're you gonna do about it? Rip them off of me?"
"Good night Penny," he concedes.
The next month Penny turns off the Xbox 360 right in the middle of a rousing rendition of "Tom Sawyer."
"Uh-oh," Leonard says after glancing at Sheldon's face. He—she—what—but—how—
And he vaguely hears Howard say something about a padded room when he finally exclaims, "Penny!"
"Don't worry, Sheldon, I'll play for you when this is over and get you a higher score," she waves him off whilst turning up the volume on the TV. The sound emanating from the speakers is a very unpleasant mixture of talking, laughing, and music.
In response she puts one hand over his mouth, the other behind the back of his head presumably to keep him from escaping, and then drags him down, arms flapping and all, to sit in his spot. Her eyes are affixed, almost rabidly, on the television screen.
His mind almost overloading at the screaming fear of germs, Sheldon latches both of his hands around her right forearm and drags her hand away from his mouth. She resists—strongly—but gives up after he manages to win.
"Please, Sheldon, hold in your outburst until afterwards?" Penny begs as he opens his mouth. The expression she sends his way is strange. It makes him shut his mouth again, purse his lips, and stare haughtily at the TV.
He doesn't deign to answer.
Two very good-looking people are walking together on screen in some sort of dancing club. They are discussing "the nature of the crime" (Sheldon rolls his eyes) and seeking the location of the club owner.
"Okay," Penny says, "we don't care about them, but just watch, it should come on in a few seconds—OH MY GOD LOOK!"
Sheldon jumps out of his skin when she screeches in his ear, and after ascertaining that the high pitch of her voice didn't damage his eardrums he quickly glances at the television.
He sees barely a second of a young blonde woman wearing a red shirt and shoes with a black skirt before the camera cuts to a bartender mixing drinks.
"Please say that's on my DVR!" Howard declares.
"What were you wearing?" Leonard squeaks.
Penny ignores them and jumps out of her seat and then does frankly one of the oddest things Sheldon thinks he's ever seen her do. She simultaneously runs in place and flaps her arms, the sleeves of her overlarge sweatshirt all over the place, with her eyes squeezed shut and a gigantic grin stretching across her face.
Everyone else in the room stares at her, their mouths slightly open at the display.
She finally ceases and looks around at all of them, her cheeks slightly colored.
"I'm sorry but I must inquire as to what in the name of Sir Issac Newton that was?"
"Oh come on. Don't tell me none of you guys have a happy dance."
"A hap—excuse me?"
"You know, a happy dance? That thing you break out only when something really great happens? Like extremely utterly fantastically awesome? And nothing less?"
Sheldon looks at the other three men. They are exchanging glances, somewhat sheepishly, he notes.
"See? I bet even you have a happy dance, Sheldon."
Sheldon sniffs and stands, moving to the kitchen to get a glass of water. "I do not have a happy dance."
(It is a happy hop.)
Several weeks later the four boys are eating Thai food when their front door slams open, bouncing against the wall and Sheldon wouldn't be surprised if it left a crack. He would be indignant and annoyed, but definitely unsurprised.
The sound causes Raj to fall from where he is perched on the arm of the couch. Thai food lands all over the floor. Sheldon can't hold in the little pained noise that escapes.
And in marches Penny. She literally marches, most likely to the great annoyance of their neighbor in 3A. She is wearing a PFC marine uniform complete with the hat, her hair in a tight severe bun at the base of her neck.
Then, placing her hands behind her very straight back: "Ateeeention!" she barks.
Everyone freezes and stares at her, their food in various positions on the route to their mouths.
"At ease," she allows, then marches over to stand in front of Wolowitz, who is sitting on the middle cushion. "Stand up, soldier!" she demands.
"Well Penny, if you'd like to move this to the bedroom, I'll be happy to allow you to order me ar—"
"If you finish that sentence, private, mess duty for a week! We're not in Kansas anymore! You either GET CRACKIN' or GET CRACKED. NOW WHICH WILL IT BE." She leans progressively closer toward Wolowitz as he leans away, his face paling.
Then, without saying another word, he moves over to the right cushion, focusing intently on his food.
"That was impressive, Penny," Sheldon tells her as he considers buying her services in times of need, particularly when people like Kripke or Winkle are involved.
Penny snaps off a salute. "Thank you, private!" Then she sits, not slouching for once, and orders Leonard to "pass the grub, I don't got all day!"
Over the next few days, however, this gets progressively more annoying. She did end up putting a crack in their wall, and when Sheldon points this out to her she tries to order him to clean her bathroom with his toothbrush. Obviously having the time of her life, she shouts everything she says, marches around making a great deal of unnecessary noise, and at one point even broke into their apartment at five in the morning on the dot in order to wake him and Leonard with a blow horn.
So when she wanders in one night in order to join them for pizza, wearing normal bright Penny clothes and speaking in her normal bright Penny voice, Sheldon is very satisfied.
"Ditched the uniform?" asks Leonard, relief clear on his face.
"Yup. That got old.
"We know," choruses everyone.
A year later, when the movie comes out, Penny treats them all on Anything Can Happen Thursday to the opening. ("It's really just a bit part, but hey, a movie!" she squeals while stealing Sheldon's Red Vines.)
Her part really is very small. It is near the end and Sheldon almost is unable to find her, as he is subconsciously looking for a shouting blonde explosion like he is accustomed to. But Penny points herself out to him, and it's almost startling. She's one of the eight soldiers carrying the casket of the main character's best friend, and in the few glimpses of her face it's appropriately somber and maybe even sad. He's never seen such a look on her face and when the movie gets out he inquires as to the exact expression she was hoping to replicate, even going down a list of possible combinations so as to assist her.
"…somber and sad, somber and sad and hopeful, sad and hopeful, somber and devastated, appearing sad but secretly joyous if your character hated the man in the casket—were the two characters acquainted? Did—"
"Whoa, slow down! No, I mean, I don't know, okay? It was a bit part, I didn't have a background story or even a name. It was just… haven't you ever seen Taking Chance? Like whether you knew him or not you're sad he died because he put himself on the line and then kinda drew the short stick. It's not that hard to get, Sheldon."
Penny pats him on the arm, her lips curled into a small smile. "Be right back a sec," she says, and disappears momentarily around the corner. She stays there for nine seconds, then reemerges, her faced flushed and her hair a little messy.
"Just happy, Sheldon. Calm down."
Several months after the Penny-as-boot-camp-officer incident, Penny and Leonard are annoying Sheldon by talking while he's trying to work.
"I thought you were a Cornhuskers fan? Isn't the fleur-de-lis, isn't that, um, that team…"
"But. Yeah. It's kind of blasphemy I'm wearing this at all." Penny's voice is slow and scratchy and she pauses.
Sheldon rolls his eyes at his computer screen, then begins to turn around so he can raise his eyebrows at Penny while he speaks to at her.
"Frankly, it's understandable that you're seeking to hide—dear Lord, what is on your face?"
She has two very distracting black stripes under her eyes, which she rolls upwards. "Shel—ugh, never mind, I'm too tired to handle you right now." And she leaves, her cowboy boots clicking against the wood.
Two weeks later, however, she sends him an e-mail.
hey sheldon check this out, its not a lolcat i swear :P. It is followed by a YouTube link.
(Sheldon sends back: Please use proper capitalization in your future e-mails to me, but clicks the link anyway.)
It is a three-minute five-second video out of a sitcom, with the characters attending a sporting event, and Sheldon has absolutely no idea what this has to do with anything. He is about to send her a sharply-worded e-mail about not wasting his time when a comment on the video catches his eye:
OMG check out that blodn chick 1:49 at the right
This is followed by an ad for Viagra, but directly after that is:
AHAHA she is going nuts!!!!
Sheldon clicks the video back to the one-minute forty-five second mark and four seconds later there is Penny, plain and bright as day, yelling her lungs out and shaking the fence on the stands. She is wearing a Saints jersey and cowboy boots.
I saw it, Sheldon types in his next e-mail. You seem much more exuberant than I have ever seen you for a Nebraska game. I wonder if that implies anything. Feeling especially clever for this, he hits the 'send' button.
CORNHUSKERS FTW!!!!!!!!!!,is her response.
Not exactly what he meant by proper capitalization, but.
It is only a month after this that Leonard and Sheldon are coming home from work, and as they emerge onto the fourth floor landing Penny is on the floor next to her door, her eyes closed.
There is a large gash across her forehead.
On reflex they both gasp, and since Sheldon is staring at her, the beginnings of a cold sweat breaking out on his skin, he sees her mouth twitch before her face blanks again.
He narrows his eyes and blocks Leonard from rushing to her. Leonard looks at Sheldon like he's gone crazy, but Sheldon takes out his phone and types into it: I believe she is playing a trick.
Leonard glances from Sheldon's phone to Penny, who is very still. The blood on Penny's forehead is going in the wrong direction, and unless Penny has some sort of special blood that defies gravity (Sheldon sincerely doubts this), he's quite sure that it's supposed to be running straight down her face, instead of at a slight angle so it hits her jaw and neck.
It looks especially real. Sheldon mentally commends whoever did it.
Then Leonard takes out his phone, quickly types on it, and holds it toward Sheldon. Bending slightly, he reads, Let's play along, say something about having to clean up this mess.
At first he doesn't understand. "About having—? Oh!" Then he clears his throat, feeling smug and smart as he begins to say, "Well, Leonard, why do not you just perceive this mess—"
And then the 'corpse' bursts out in laughter.
Sheldon is a little disappointed. This seemed like a great game.
Penny stands, all smiles, something which greatly contrasts with the ghastly fake cut on her forehead. "You two are so obvious, oh my god. I was hoping for at least one faint, I know Leonard doesn't like blood."
"Hey!" Leonard objects. "It's not… not normal for a rational human being to—"
"Actually," interjects Sheldon, "Wolowitz and Koothrappali are arriving presently, and with Howard's track record I'm sure you can get him unconscious in under a second."
"Ooh! Really?" Penny's voice has that quality in it similar to when she is talking about gutting amphibians as if they were cervine beasts. "Let's go then!"
She picks her purse off of the ground and hurries past them into their apartment.
"So who were you this time?" Leonard asks conversationally as she peers around, apparently searching for the perfect place to stage her own murder.
"I suggest directly in front of the bar. You are easily visible from there," Sheldon says.
"Good thinking." And, as she makes her way over, she turns back to Leonard to answer, "I was that really stupid chick in the beginning of a slasher flick, you know, that one that gets killed like right away. And I was stupid," she says, as she lays on the hardwood. "If that were really me, seriously, that murderer would have been on his stomach with his arms and legs tied together in like a minute. He came at me right from the front and I just had to stand there and scream. And after, they offered to take the makeup off, but I was like, uh, no! This is just too good to pass up."
"Turn on your other side, the blood is running the wrong way," Sheldon says.
"You're welcome. And tilt your head a little. No, the other direction." He crosses the room and puts his hands on either side of her face, placing it at the perfect angle so the 'blood' is running in accordance with gravity.
"Ooh, you know what would really scare Wolowitz?" Penny's words are a little smushed due to Sheldon's hands on her cheeks. "If you were the one that killed me."
"… That was surprisingly clever, Penny. Your conniving mind is really very impressive sometimes."
"I think I'll take that as a compliment. Now get a knife and put ketchup on it and just, like, stand over me."
"But for the color, ketchup doesn't resemble—"
"Just do it," she hisses. "He won't be able to tell."
Sheldon huffs but does as she says.
"And Leonard!" she calls. "Leonard, when they walk in, just shout something like, 'Oh my God, he finally lost it!'"
"Are you sure you want me to—"
"Just do it! Jesus, you two—"
There is the sound of Raj and Howard bickering as they come up the stairs.
Sheldon carefully rubs an appropriate amount of ketchup on the blade of a kitchen knife, then stands by Penny's head. Leonard is presumably deciding where to stand, and moves from next to the door, to next to the armchair, and finally settles on between the two desks.
Sheldon doesn't know what to do except for to stand there, and stares down at Penny's face so his own doesn't give them away.
The front door opens. The blade drips.
"Oh no, Sheldon finally snapped!" Leonard yells. His voice is unconvincing, but loud enough for both Raj and Howard to stare at Sheldon, then stare at Penny, then stare at Penny's cut, then simultaneously faint.
"BAZINGA!" Sheldon is unable to resist, and he does a little hop that Penny, who is busy laughing and rolling around on the floor, fortunately doesn't notice.
Penny's movie goes straight to video only a few months later, and even for their classic practical joke, watching a girl that looks exactly like Penny get 'murdered' onscreen makes Sheldon feel greatly uncomfortable. He tells Penny he doesn't like her part of the movie and she sends him dirty looks for days afterwards.
Three months later Penny doesn't come home in a costume, but from the way she's jumping and flailing around when she runs into his apartment Sheldon thinks she has good news.
Either that or she has a concussion that induces odd behavior, which he doesn't rule out.
"OH MY GOD OH MY GOD SHELDON HOLY GUESS WHAT."
He is home alone so he doesn't have Leonard around so she can dilute her reactions. He is uncomfortable with her emotional response, it's far too great for him to understand. He thinks it gives him indigestion.
"I don't guess."
"Okay okay okay I didn't tell anyone because I thought that like it was a way long shot, but holy crap, like you know those daytime action shows like Xena and stuff that everyone secretly enjoys?"
"Well, me. BUT. OH MY GOD. I got like A RECURRING ROLE. RECURRING, SHELDON." (She is shouting this.) "DO YOU KNOW WHAT RECURRING MEANS? IT MEANS THEY WANT ME TO BE ON SCREEN MORE THAN ONCE. DO YOU KNOW WHAT—"
Sheldon covers his ears. "Yes! Yes, I know what recurring means," he hurries to assure. Then he clears his throat. "Congratulations," he says, stiffly, the indigestion worsening.
"Congratulations? That's all you have?"
"Isn't that the appropriate sentiment to express?"
"Well, yeah, but I would expect that you'd be a little more, you know, excited."
A long time ago Sheldon would have said something like, 'Why would I be excited? I didn't obtain the role,' but now he thinks about what to do to correct this.
With a resigned sigh, he stands.
And, feeling greatly humiliated at doing this in front of someone for something so inane (it is usually reserved for when he does things along the caliber of reconciling the black hole information paradox with his theory on string network condensates), he lifts both of his feet off the ground for a moment before landing.
Then he sits and turns away from her, back to his laptop.
"What the freaking crap was that?"
Sheldon purses his lips. "That was my happy hop. I am excited. Congratulations. Now please leave."
When the five of them gather around the television to watch Penny's first episode on their DVR (all of them were at work when it aired), Sheldon for his transgression makes sure to point out all the physical impossibilities and contortion of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology.
"Jeez, Sheldon, give it a break," Leonard says as they fast forward through commercials.
"Don't worry," Penny grins, and pats Sheldon's arm. "You know he secretly loves it."
And, secretly, he does.