Title: Stuck on You
Author: Talitha Koum
Spoilers: Recent episodes.
Rating: PG-13 for mild language.
Word Count: 3700+
Disclaimer: I do not own The Big Bang Theory. Insert witticism here.
A/N: A SILLY FIC TO LIGHTEN THE MOOD! I started writing this in early March so it's early March in the fic. :p I had planned on posting Stuck on You as a one-shot, but it turned out way too long. Without further ado, enjoy!
Sheldon Cooper was bored.
It was Sunday. Dr. Gablehauser forbade him to work on the weekends, spewing nonsense about labor laws when Sheldon knew very well labor laws had absolutely nothing to do with it. California law required that employers pay overtime, whether the overtime is authorized or not, at the rate of one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight up to and including twelve hours in any workday.
If Sheldon had his way, he would work whenever boredom reared its ugly head. It didn't happen often, but when it did it wasn't pretty. He watched crazy things when he was bored like The Hannah Montana Movie. (Never again.) The university, however, countered his wishes, explaining to him that 'money didn't grow on trees' like he was a child that failed to grasp the grown-up world and its monetary tribulations.
Sheldon was forced to suck it up.
If Dr. Gablehauser caught him at CalTech after hours one more time? Sheldon shuddered at the consequences. Heaven help the day he stooped to shop with Penny out of sheer desperation.
Though, shopping with Penny was starting to sound pretty diverting at this point in time...
No. A million times, no!
Sheldon cleaned the apartment. Twice. He spent all of Saturday up to his elbows in rubber gloves and disinfectant, watching--or listening, rather--to The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King while he busied himself with what he called Spring Cleaning even though, technically, March 20th at midnight would be the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. But whatever. He quoted the movies word for word while he worked, thinking: I don't miss Leonard. I don't miss Leonard.
He missed Leonard.
So Penny and Leonard had a nasty break up, he thought. So things were said. So things were thrown. Sheldon didn't understand how these factors constituted a sabbatical to Las Vegas with Koothrapali and Wolowitz. While matters of the heart were duly noted in his friendship agreement, Leonard didn't want his sympathy, which equaled X amount of coitus divided by Y amount of months as a couple in Sheldon's mind. (I.e., a lot of sympathy.) Leonard reminded him he wasn't particularly good at sympathy, but: "If you're concerned with reciprocity, you can subtract the time I'm on vacation from the equation."
Now he was left alone. And bored.
He hadn't been bored in a while. His mind was always churning away, solving problems, but he couldn't concentrate today of all days. His brain was being completely unreliable and downright stubborn. It kept buzzing in his ears--that not-so-familiar sensation Sheldon equated with having forgotten something--pinching at his theories like his Aunt Edna would pinch his cheeks. Sheldon refused to admit he forgot until he was driven from his own brilliance with a stomp of his foot.
He needed something to do with his hands. Something menial.
Sheldon rummaged around in Leonard's closet, pointedly ignoring the Bottle City of Kandor he lost in an ill-wagered Halo match, and retrieved the chemicals he knew Leonard had liberated from the university. He set up a pseudo lab in the kitchen; goggles, gloves, beakers, the works. Since he had spent the better part of the last six months warning Leonard that his relationship with Penny would never hold, he dabbled in the science of adhesives, thinking himself genuinely funny.
His mind cranked out information like a well-oiled machine. Solvent evaporation. Polyvinylacetate latex. Flexible bonds. Anionic polymerization. Cyanoacrylate. C5H5NO2--still with the pinching!
Sheldon's eye twitched. He, of course, knew he was prone to forgetfulness. After being told over and over again what a robot he was, a part of himself came to expect his robotic attributes to override his human limitations. So there he stood, playing chemist, half of himself fawning over his witticism and half of himself embarrassed he found this at all amusing. He mixed his concoction, acutely aware his mind had entered the theta state.
Sheldon made a face at the muddy mess he created by accident. Or not by accident. There was no telling. He picked up the beaker with his left hand in case something should happen. He sniffed conservatively, intrigued that there wasn't an odor of which to speak. The borosilicate glass was cool to the touch, not hot. He transferred a little of the brown liquid into a Petri dish for later observation. Sheldon held the beaker at eye-level and swirled the mixture around and around and around--
Penny shuffled through the living room. Her eyes were closed and she yawned a jaw-cracking yawn. "Coffee. Need coffee."
"Penny..." Sheldon blinked. He pulled the goggles off his face. He noticed now that the pinching sensation was gone, but a new feeling took its place. He pinned it down to either guilt or gas and since he had moved his bowels successively that morning, guilt it was. "...I forgot about you."
Penny opened the cabinet. She stood on her tip-toes, her impossibly short pajama bottoms ridding up her backside.
Sheldon looked at the ceiling. "It seems that while I thought to console Leonard, I failed to console you." He glanced at Penny to see if she was standing flat-footed. (She wasn't.) Sheldon looked at the floor. "Are you in need of consolation?"
"I'll take that as a no."
Glance. Still on her tip-toes.
"Oh, good Lord." Sheldon stood behind Penny, reached over her head, and pulled down the can of coffee and her mug of preference.
"You're welcome," Sheldon made a point to enunciate.
Penny turned around, drunkenly recoiled at the sight of Sheldon standing so close, patted his chest with a smile, and leaned against the island where Sheldon's beakers and chemicals and goggles were organized by size. "Wha'cha doin'?" Penny asked, scooping coffee beans directly onto the counter.
Sheldon snatched her mug out of her hands and prepared her coffee like a civilized person. "This," he said, showing her the beaker he held while he fiddled with the settings on Leonard's Mr. Coffee.
"Glue." Sheldon laughed at the thought of referring to Penny and Leonard's breakup as a sticky situation, but he knew better than to antagonize his neighbor so early in the morning.
"You plan on gluing your hands together?"
Penny pointed, squinting. The bun on the top of her head flip-flopped. "You've got glue on your hand."
It was true. The majority of the beaker had spilt--probably when Penny startled him--and now his glove was ruined. Sheldon pursed his lips. "This is what happens when you don't knock." He set the beaker down on the island in its retort stand, clasping it securely in its proper place. It was then he noticed the glue stains were gone. All that was left were singed holes.
"I think I've burned myself."
"Let me see."
"NO!" Sheldon raised his hand high into the air. He warned Penny about the risk of infection, but she didn't heed his words. She never heeded his words. She merely poked him in the ribs so he would buckle enough to where she could grab his wrist.
Penny ripped off his latex glove. When Sheldon tried to flee, she grabbed his hand and pulled him back beside her. "Don't be such a bay-BEE!" She clenched her teeth and backpedaled against the refrigerator. "Holy Hell! Don't grip so hard!"
"I'm not gripping! You're the one who's gripping me!"
They both pulled away from one another and retracted in a collision of shoulders, their wrists contorting to escape the pressure they felt in their hands. Sheldon was the first to stop struggling, coming to grips--Who said he wasn't witty?--with the situation a lot quicker than Penny. That didn't mean he liked their predicament any more than she did. He watched her throw her weight this way and that while he clung to the island, his expression resigned. She banged their hands against the freezer door ("OW!") and plunged their arms underneath the faucet in the sink.
The ice-cold water did wonders for the ache in his palm, but they were still stuck. Not just stuck, but stuck-stuck. His left hand in her right hand.
"This can not be happening," Penny gasped. Her bangs wafted, tendrils of yellow. "Please tell me this is not happening!"
"I could, but I don't think me saying so will make it true."
Penny glared at him. "C'mon." She held up her left hand and turned to face him. "Let's try one more time."
Sheldon laced his fingers with hers, his disquiet as far as germs were concerned falling to the wayside. Penny lowered her center of gravity, her knees bent. She pressed her hip between his legs, which was highly uncomfortable for Sheldon, but he decided to put his energy into pulling their hands apart rather than complain. Though, he was poised to rant about her disregard for his privates.
With a POP, their hands came unstuck. A rush of relief. Gleeful smiles. A crow of victory from Penny.
Sheldon looked at his left hand. His skin was no longer irritated. His palm was somewhat bruised--
"HOLY HELL!" Penny screamed again.
Sheldon felt it, too. The same pressure, only in his right hand.
They returned to the sink and left the water running. Sheldon rolled his sleeves further up his arm so his shirt wouldn't get wet. His each and every knuckle was screaming its objections. His mind could not conceive this. Still, he did the math, which was more or less based on impossibilities, and grabbed Penny's right hand, yanking his other fingers free.
As he expected, they were stuck again. Sheldon discovered the less they tried to pull apart, the less pressure amassed as a result. It was like a Chinese finger trap, but worse for obvious reasons.
Penny groaned. "What're we gonna to do?"
Mr. Coffee chimed.
Sheldon Cooper was no longer bored.
Here were the facts:
She and Sheldon were stuck holding hands.
They didn't stick to anything else, anywhere else.
They could switch hands for unknown reasons.
Sheldon was going to die. Friggin'. Die.
Penny was in a state of nerves. She knew what she was about to say wasn't going to go over well, but after ten failed attempts to wedge them apart, switching hands for every letdown and nursing the bruises and the blisters therewith, she didn't have the patience to coddle his quirks. "Sheldon," she said calmly even as she raised the butter knife to her eye-level. "There's a problem."
Sheldon blinked. The space between his eyebrows furrowed while he considered the gleam of the utensil she wielded and the don't-freak-out-on-me look on her face. "This--" He squeezed her hand. "--isn't a problem?"
"There's another problem," she snapped. "I have to go to work."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do!"
"Let me rephrase." Sheldon's tone of voice caused Penny to tighten her grip on the handle of the butter knife. She wedged its tip between their fingers and tried to pry their hands apart. "You can't go to work."
"I have bills, Sheldon."
"And I have money, Penny. Problem solved."
"No. I am not borrowing money from you again."
Sheldon grumbled. "I suppose joining you in your mundane, mind-numbing routines at the Cheesecake Factory might help me resolve our current state of affairs."
"Good." Penny dropped the knife on the coffee table and pulled Sheldon behind her out of his apartment and across the hall.
"Where are you taking me?"
"My bathroom." Penny looked at him over her shoulder. "I have to take a shower."
"Oh, no." Sheldon's legs locked up.
"Oh, no, no, no." Sheldon shook his head. He spun on his heel and pulled Penny back the way they came. "This is not appropriate."
Penny caught hold of her doorframe. "It's not like you're going to see me naked."
"I'm sorry. I fail to see how I won't see you naked seeing as you are currently an unwarranted appendage. If you get in the shower, won't I have to get in the shower?" He raised his eyebrows at her.
"Amp down 'n let me show you what I mean."
Sheldon sat on the floor of Penny's bathroom, leaning against the edge of her tub. His forearm was draped across the top of his head where Penny held his hand, hidden behind the shower curtain.
"You see? This isn't so bad, right?"
"I suppose," Sheldon begrudged her this victory.
Penny drew the curtain, the clink of plastic shower rings making him flinch. He watched Penny step out of the tub, fully clothed, grinning her closed-lipped grin that made him wish he had both of his hands at his disposal so he could attempt to blow up her brain with his mind. Penny crouched down beside him. The corners of her mouth twitched at his unwillingness to look her directly in the eye. "Okay, sweetie. You're going to help me get undressed like we planned and then you're going to sit down and play Sudoku." Penny fished a paperback booklet from the magazine rack beside her toilet.
Sheldon didn't bother dispensing with the derision. "Sudoku? Really?"
"Hey!" Penny slapped him on his knee. "Don't knock it 'til you try it."
"I have tried it. Sudoku isn't even moderately challenging."
"Fine. Whatever. You can think about my naked body bathing behind you, instead."
Sheldon swallowed. "Do you have a pencil?"
Penny grabbed a pen from the bottom of the magazine rack and opened the Sudoku booklet for him. "I only did, like, one of these."
"And you did it wrong."
Penny ignored him. "C'mon." She motioned for him to stand.
They helped each other to their feet.
"No peeking this time, okay?"
"Cross your heart."
Sheldon sighed unbearably. "Yes."
"That wasn't a question, Sheldon. Cross your heart."
"Very well." He drew a tiny X over his chest. "But I refuse to hope to die. Though, by the end of his venture, I might wish I were dead."
"Ha ha," Penny droned. "Very funny." She stepped back into the tub and pulled the curtain to hide herself from him.
Sheldon turned his back. It wouldn't have been so awkward if he hadn't felt Penny shift her weight while she undressed. His adam's apple bobbed when he saw her bottoms helicopter over the shower rod and into the wall. "Oh, God." Then he felt her top fall against their clasped hands. The urge to jump in the shower with her--not to see her naked, but to bathe--was almost overpowering.
Sheldon did as he was told. Penny tossed her top to join her bottoms in an unorganized heap.
Sheldon wanted to pass out.
They switched hands again.
Sheldon sat down in a daze, resting his arm across the top of his head like before.
"How're you holdin' up?"
The shower started running.
Sheldon tried to focus all of his attention on--to quote Wolowitz--a piddly-ass assortment of mind-benders for the intellectually challenged, but his mind was far too superior to devote even a fraction of his genius on Penny's Sudoku. He solved the problems, sure, the pen in his hand practically burning a hole through the paper. Penny, however, proved to be a greater distraction than he had anticipated.
Her wet, naked, and sudsy leg brushed against their hands and Sheldon dropped the Sudoku booklet. The pen bounced across the floor beside the toilet. Sheldon was, as Penny would say, screwed.
Sheldon began listing the elements aloud, starting with Hydrogen. When he felt Penny's skin again? Rough with goosebumps, hot and slippery from the water? When she asked him what he was going on about over the roar of the shower, her voice reminiscent of the times she sang him Soft Kitty? Sheldon reflexively jumped to his feet. His mind, in its entirety, screamed at him to retrieve the pen.
Snap, snap, snap, the shower rings broke.
Sheldon suddenly found himself lying flat on his stomach, a flowery shower curtain obstructing his vision, with a Penny-sized weight sprawled across his back.
For the first time in his life, his mind stopped functioning. It stopped grinding on potential proof with regards to string theory, gnawing at facts like a starving animal. For the first time in his life, he had nothing to say.
Adversely, Penny cursed enough for the both of them. "Damn it, Sheldon!" She slapped him across the back of his head. (He didn't appreciate the assault on his person even though he reasoned he deserved a swift punch to the throat. He would rather she stop squirming around.) "What th' Hell?"
"I'm sorry," Sheldon apologized lamely.
There must have been something in his voice that soothed Penny's temper to simmer to a low flame because she heaved a sigh of resignation. "Just...help me up. And keep your eyes closed or I will castrate you. You know those blue ball ornaments people hang on the hitches of their trucks or whatever? The ones you hate so much? Yeah. Your balls, my bumper. Think about it."
He thought about it.
"Lest you forget, Moonpie. You can run, but you can't hide."
Penny pushed herself off his back and knelt beside him. Naked.
Sheldon shut his eyes.
They balanced each other out, standing to their feet. Penny was still naked.
She pulled him back toward the shower and turned off the water. "I'll save shaving for another day."
"That is acceptable."
Penny scoffed at him.
Sheldon heard her grab her uniform off the sink. Naked.
Sheldon cursed his appreciation of fine art. The Birth of Venus and Rodin's The Kiss and The Rape of the Sabine Women kept cropping up in his mind. "Mother was right. Hell is real."
"You're doing fine."
They walked hand-in-hand into Penny's bedroom. "See? You don't even have to help me this time."
Sheldon assumed she was referring to the night she dislocated her shoulder and he discreetly rubbed the hand that had cupped her breast against his pant leg--the hand Penny wasn't holding. "I'd rather not. You told me not to earlier."
"Not to what?"
"Not to look." Sheldon felt Penny shimmy into her panties and her bluejean skirt. He assisted her only when he feared she would fall, stiffening his arm in support. "First, you threaten my genitals and now you tell me to see."
"It was an expression. And that threat? Yeah. That was more of a promise."
They switched hands while Penny struggled into her bra, irritating Sheldon with her commentary. "I hate sports bras, but clasps are, like, just asking for trouble this morning."
Sheldon didn't reply.
"Okay. You can open your eyes now."
"No, thank you."
"Don't be such a prude, Sheldon, I'm covered--"
The sound of Penny's apartment door opening and closing altered the end of her sentence from 'up' to, "Oh my God!" She pulled Sheldon flush against her body, folding behind his long arms and legs in an attempt to hide herself. Sheldon hunched forward in his haste to escape the feel of Penny invading his personal space, which sent her bending over backward at his knee-jerk response.
They fell over onto the bed.
Sheldon straddled Penny, scared to death he had crushed her. He had always been tall and bumbling for his age when he was a boy, often ridiculed for his lack of coordination and his misfortunes around breakable objects. So even now at twenty-nine years of age, he cringed at the thought of destroying a human being even though his mind told him that smashing Penny to pieces was slim to none.
She gaped at him.
Sheldon pinned their hands to the mattress above her head before she socked him in the nose with his own knuckles.
Penny grabbed him by the waist of his pants. "Your balls are mine!"
"Thanks for letting me borrow your spare vest," said a familiar voice. "I need to stop wearing my uniform to schoo--oh."
Sheldon and Penny turned their heads.
Bernadette balked. She wore a similar bluejean skirt to Penny's and a short-sleeved button down. "Am I interrupting anything?"
"Yes," Sheldon breathed. "Thank you."
"No," Penny admonished. "Thank you."
Bernadette blushed. "I knocked. I guess you didn't hear me."
"This?" Penny laughed. "This is not what it looks like."
"Sure. Okay. Um. I'm just gonna..." Bernadette took a step backward. "...go." She put her knees to the breeze before Penny could explain herself.
"She's quick," Sheldon mused.
"Yeah. She used to run track in high school. Weak ankles, though."
Sheldon looked down at Penny. He smiled, relieved she wasn't trying to murder him anymore.
Penny smiled back. Then she punched him in the nuts.
Penny climbed through the passenger side door so she could sit in the driver's seat. Sheldon followed, sullen, a frozen bag of peas pressed against his crotch. "Great," she said once she cranked her car. "Right on time."
"Yes. Well…forgive me for not leaping for joy."
"Bad back you know," Penny added.
Sheldon stared at her. "You have a bad back?"
"No, no. The Lion King." Penny drew a line down the side of her face with her free hand. "Scar. Simba. Ring any bells?"
"Yes, but." Sheldon licked his lips. He turned toward her. "How is it you can remember that specific line of dialogue and yet you're incapable of remembering why ma = mg and its significance to the world of science?" He helped her shift into reverse.
Penny tilted her head, her smile an overture of bad news. "You're this close to having my foot up your ass." She didn't even have to measure what he assumed was a meager distance unto his doom for Sheldon to understand he was in it deep. He hated to think about how painful it would be to travel from point A to point B stuck holding hands and, ahem, Penny's foot--
Penny squealed her tires when she backed out of her parking spot.
"Devil, thy name is woman," Sheldon muttered to himself.