Title: The Queen of Hearts Revalidation
Author: Talitha Koum
Spoilers: Recent episodes.
Rating: K+ for mischief.
Word Count: 1800+
Disclaimer: I do not own The Big Bang Theory. Insert witticism here.
A/N: I might add on to this at a later date when I'm finished with Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt.
Penny navigated the halls of CalTach, a bagged lunch swinging in time with her stride. A smile teased the corners of her mouth when she thought, I wonder what my friends back home would think? Penny, the infamous Queen of Hearts, bringing her boyfriend a sandwich with the crusts cut off just because? Penny's smile widened. They'd flip. That's what.
Penny was nothing short of a tease in high school. She would flaunt her womanly whiles, play the game, catch her a man, titillate his intentions, and drop him like a hot potato before he knew what hit him. Penny didn't do relationships. She was moving to California to become a movie star, duh! She refused to make her dreams hard on herself by falling in love with a Cornhusker who wanted to stick to The Routine. Go to college in Omaha, settle down, raise a family.
Thus, her nickname, the Queen of Hearts. She beheaded the lovey-dovey feelings of men on a whim, dancing through life without a care in the world. Until--well--Penny regretted trifling with the hearts of men, okay? Karma finally caught up with her when she dated Kurt, but now the score was square. She had a clean slate and, by golly, she was going to be a White Queen instead of a Red Queen. She was going to be the best girlfriend ever. No more acting. No more games.
Penny rounded a corner. Her heart tap-danced in her chest when she saw a familiar face; she loved familiar faces in unfamiliar places. Sheldon was standing in front of a door, tacking a piece of paper on the bullion board screwed to its face. His name formed on her lips. She lifted her hand to wave when she heard:
"He's doing it again."
"He's making a schedule for computing time and putting his name down in every slot."
"Didn't Dr. Gablehauser already get on to him about that?"
"The man never learns."
Penny would have laughed if the voices hadn't sounded so patronizing. Two women--possibly graduate students--were loitering in the hall beside a water fountain, whispering not-very-quietly to one another behind their books.
"I don't get what she sees in him."
"Oh." One of the nameless witches blew a raspberry. "She's just as crazy as he is."
Penny's face burned red. They hadn't noticed her standing there.
"I mean he's…" She gestured, miming Sheldon's figure with a limp wrist. "…ugh."
"I know. He looks like a giant praying mantis."
Yeah, no. Penny thought viciously. I'm the only one allowed to say that.
"What girl in her right mind would ever be interested in that?"
Both women giggled at Sheldon's expense.
Penny had had enough. She formulated a plan via Reese Witherspoon's Legally Blonde, fisticuffs suppressed for the time being. She stomped down the hall toward Sheldon, feeling very much like her old self, the Queen of Hearts. He heard her coming. Of course he heard her coming. Hell, he probably heard the students' debasing conversation in its entirety, blast his Vulcan hearing.
First, he smiled. He was happy to see her. But wait. Something was amiss. His eyebrows furrowed, wondering why she was at the university. Then his eyes widened when he perceived the enraged look on her face. He wasn't a pro at reading facial expressions, but he was familiar with Penny's I'm-going-to-kill-you! snarl.
She could almost hear his thought process, Holy God, she's going to maul me.
Penny dropped her bagged lunch at Sheldon's feet. She touched the side of his face with the tips of her fingers and pretended to slap him across the face. She didn't have to worry about authenticity or anything like that. Sheldon recoiled with the best of 'em.
"Penny!" he yelped, backpedaling down the hall. "What are you--"
"HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?"
"HOW COULD YOU?"
"I'm," Sheldon tried. "I'm sorry?"
"SORRY? THAT'S ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY? SORRY?"
Sheldon nodded his head, retreating still.
Penny followed him. "YOU DIDN'T CALL! YOU PLEASURED ME, THE BEST THIRTY-SIX HOURS OF MY LIFE, AND YOU DIDN'T CALL! SORRY? WELL, SORRY AIN'T GONNA CUT IT, MISTER! I'M THROUGH! I REFUSE TO LOSE ANY MORE SLEEP, SHED ANY MORE TEARS OVER THE LIKES OF YOU!"
Sheldon stood his ground. "Penny." He spoke her name in his don't-be-silly tone that really did make her want to blow a gasket. "I enjoy Halo Night as much as the next person, but don't you think you're lording your triumph over my head a little too fervently?"
Penny looked down the hall. The witches' mouths were agape and their cheeks were blistered red. She caught their eyes, employed her best Scanners death-glare, and watched them scuttle out of sight.
"Penny," Sheldon said again. "I don't understand. That awful romantic comedy you forced to me watch, Legally Blonde. Why were you quoting a scene from that movie? And poorly, I might add?"
Penny picked up Leonard's lunch. "Bravo, caption obvious."
Sheldon rolled his eyes. "You were either trying to embarrass me about besting my team by a single kill last night, which is never your approach to dealing with my quirks--usually--or you were trying to protect my feelings from the students down the hall who were making crude generalizations I've heard hundreds of times before--" (Penny winced.) "--which is more plausible. If the former, I challenge you to a one-on-one match this afternoon in my apartment. May the best man, or woman, win. If the latter, I appreciate your concern, but I'm a grown man who can handle himself." He paused. "Also, I challenge you to a one-on-one match this afternoon in my apartment. May the best man, or woman, win."
Penny rubbed her forehead. Why did Sheldon have to say something that took five words to express what he meant and make it last forever? "You analyze everything out of existence," she jabbed.
Comprehension dawned on Sheldon's face followed closely by a micro-expression Penny guessed was revulsion. "I know you want to be an actress, Penny, but I don't think I'm the one you want to be practic--"
She sighed, exasperated, silently asking him, What are you talking about?
Sheldon misread her body language, saying, "I see." He stood a little straighter and cleared his throat. "Love isn't so simple, Penelope."
"What are you--?"
Sheldon silenced her question with a wag of his finger. "Penelope, why do doves bill and coo? Why do snails, the coldest of all creatures, circle interminably around each other? Why do moths fly hundreds of miles to find their mates? Why do flowers slowly open their petals? Oh, Penelope, Penelope, surely you feel some slight symptom of the divine passion? A general warmth in the palms of your hands, a strange heaviness in your limbs, a burning of the lips that isn't thirst but something a thousand times more tantalizing, more exalting, than thirst?"
Penny smiled ruefully. "Sweetie, you talk too much."
Sheldon licked his lips, looking both ways down the hall like a caged animal desperate for freedom. He lifted his chin and stared down his nose at Penny, attempting to demonstrate the courage he didn't feel seeing as he folded in on himself when she raised her eyebrows at him. (Confusedly. Not angrily. But Sheldon misread her again.) "Do I have to?" he whined, barely curbing a stomp of his foot.
What? Penny wondered. Stop talking? "Please!"
A tinge of color invaded Sheldon's cheeks. "This seems to me an inappropriate endeavor."
Penny was beyond confused. "What's inappropriate?"
"Very well." Sheldon stopped and planted a chaste kiss on her lips.
Penny reeled on the inside. Head over heels, heels over head. Her heart was prone to tap-dancing for familiarity, but it felt as if it shot itself out of a canon, suddenly thinking itself a daredevil, and barreled against her ribcage, thudding around in her chest like a pinball going for bonus points. And all for a kiss, closed-lipped. Penny swallowed an unconscious moan with some difficulty, her throat constricted as it was, and gasped instead.
Sheldon was standing very close to her. "Was that talkative?" he drawled, his voice soft.
Holy crap on a cracker. Penny ignored the stray thoughts trapezing through her head and tried to say NO, but all she ended up murmuring was, "Um. Thank you?"
Sheldon closed his eyes. He steeled himself for Penny knew not what. Did he expect her to hit him or something?
"Oh, my barbaric Penelope."
Well. That answered that question.
"My impossible, unromantic, statistical..."
"What th' Hell, Sheldon?" Penny slapped him across his chest with her bagged lunch. "How could you call me those names?"
Sheldon shielded his face, then his throat, then his groin. "It's nothing personal," he squeaked.
"Nothing personal?" Penny continued to assail him.
"I'm quoting verbatim!"
Penny hesitated. "Quoting? Quoting what?"
"Ninotchka," Sheldon repeated himself. "A 1939 romantic comedy." When Penny didn't respond, he explained, "I assumed you were acting out a scene from the film Ninotchka when you said, 'You analyze everything out of existence!' a famous preparatory dialogue between Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas."
Penny laughed out loud. She laughed so hard she had to drop Leonard's lunch on the floor and grab her knees to support herself. "You were acting? Sheldon Cooper--" She paused to catch her breath. "--was acting!"
Sheldon failed to see the humor. "Excuse me! I'll have you know--"
Penny drowned him out with her peels of uninhibited guffaws. ("And you call yourself an actress!" she heard him say.) "But I wasn't acting!" Penny wiped her eyes. "I thought you kissed me for real!"
"Good Lord, Penny." Sheldon shot her a disapproving look. "Sheldon Cooper does not kiss his best friend's girlfriend--" He air quoted. "--for real."
Penny finally got a hold of herself. She leaned against the wall, wrapping her arms around her stomach. Sheldon shuffled his feet, clearly embarrassed with himself. She felt bad--not bad-bad, but bad--that his attempts to assist her, as Sheldon romanticized his efforts to aid a damsel in distress, were severely misinterpreted. "Aw. Thank you for trying to help me, sweetie, but I'm a big girl. I pay for acting classes and everything."
He muttered something about wasters of his time. Then he turned to go.
Penny watched him leave. It didn't take her long to decide to throw caution into the wind. She wasn't the Queen of Hearts for nothing. "Sheldon?"
Penny took her time closing the distance between them, one foot in front of the other. "What happens next?"
"What happens after the line, 'My impossible, unromantic, statistical...'?"
"Nina Ivanovna Yakushova, or Ninotchka, kisses Count Leon D'Algout."
Penny grabbed Sheldon by his shoulders and gave him a kiss. He balked so she ended up kissing his throat instead of his mouth, but she didn't mind. She felt his Adam's apple bob against her lips and that was good enough for her. "May the best woman win," she whispered, spinning away from him. She proceeded to lose herself in the maze that was CalTech.
So, okay. She was a tease. She couldn't help it. Karma wouldn't punish her too severely, she hoped. Karma wouldn't cause her to break up with Leonard, right?