AN: Just a little one shot that popped into my head as I wondered how Sheldon would deal with the break up from The Wheaton Recurrence. Hope you enjoy it!
Sheldon opened the door and stepped into the apartment building. He didn't even glance at the elevator, having long since given up hope his numerous letters would have any effect on the management company– not that that had stopped him from sending them, of course. Instead, he strode toward the stairs and proceeded to steadily climb the three flights.
Raj and Howard were in the middle of some ridiculous argument, likely over some female, while Leonard watched the television with a dour expression. Sheldon placed the two bags of food on the coffee table and walked to the bathroom to wash his hands.
As he reentered the living room, he saw that his friends had not bothered to unpack the takeout bags. Sheldon sighed and stooped to extract the various containers of Thai food. When he pulled out the one that held yellow curry, Sheldon jerked his head this way and that as he scanned the room.
"Where's Penny?" he asked.
Leonard looked up at the ceiling with a groan, and Sheldon followed his gaze, wondering if that meant Penny was visiting the actress upstairs.
Howard and Raj shared an awkward glance before Howard spoke up. "I doubt she's coming, Sheldon."
"Why?" Sheldon asked, bewildered.
"Because," Howard said, bugging his eyes out toward Leonard.
"That's not a sufficient answer to a question, Howard. A reason is supposed to follow that 'because,'" Sheldon lectured and then waited expectantly.
Howard turned to Raj with a desperate expression.
"Don't look at me," Raj said, shaking his head. "This ought to teach you to answer his questions."
"He doubts she's coming over because we're not dating anymore, Sheldon," Leonard snipped.
"Well, that doesn't make any sense. Penny came over plenty of times when you two weren't dating. She probably just lost track of time. You know how flighty she is." Sheldon set the container down and proceeded to walk to the door.
"No!" "Sheldon!" "What are you doing?!" they all shouted at once.
"I'm going to get Penny," he said, as if that were abundantly clear.
"Look, Sheldon, if she doesn't want to come over then she doesn't want to come over. Just leave it alone," Leonard pleaded.
"I can't leave it alone, Leonard. What are we going to do with her yellow curry?"
"Just put it in the fridge and we'll have it as leftovers."
"Leftovers?!" Sheldon exclaimed in a scandalized voice. "We can't have leftovers," he insisted, shaking his head emphatically.
"There's nothing wrong with leftovers," Leonard argued in a weary voice.
"There's plenty wrong with leftovers. Leftovers indicate that you failed to properly plan your meal or that someone," he said with a pointed glare that was meant to carry through their door and into the apartment across the hall, "failed to inform you that she wouldn't be coming over. And in any unhygienic refrigerator, the source of the smell or growth is almost always leftovers. So no, Leonard, we can't have leftovers."
And with that, he turned and left the apartment.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Sheldon saw the knob twitch and looked up in anticipation of the door being opening. He straightened up in surprise when it remained closed. A few seconds later, Penny finally opened the door.
"What is it, Sheldon?" she asked neutrally.
"Oh good, you're home. I'm guessing you forgot it was Thai night. Fortunately for you, I came over here soon enough that your food should still be warm." Sheldon turned to lead her across the hall, then stopped when he heard her speak from her door.
"I don't think that's a good idea, Sheldon."
"What do you mean?" he asked when he had turned around again. "Of course it's a good idea. It's yellow curry. Isn't that your favorite?"
"It is, but that's not the problem."
"So this is about the break up."
Penny sighed with relief. "So you understand."
"Not at all. As I pointed out to the others, you ate with us before you dated Leonard, and you ate with us when you were dating Leonard. So clearly your relationship status with Leonard has nothing to do with whether or not you can join us for a meal."
"It's not the same anymore, Sheldon."
"Why? Because he likes you and you don't like him? Sounds just like before to me."
"He doesn't like me, Sheldon. He can't. Not after what I did to him, how I humiliated him in front of everybody. Nobody likes me, Sheldon!"
There was a pause as Sheldon tried to process her hysterics. He walked to her door again and tentatively reached out a hand to pat her on the shoulder.
"There, there. I like you, Penny."
"Oh. Sheldon … That's … Thank you."
He removed his hand and returned it to his side. "You're welcome. So, are we going now?"
"Argh! Sheldon! You aren't listening! I wouldn't be welcome over there."
"I beg your pardon, but I think you're the one not listening. I just assured you I like you, and I'm welcoming you over."
"That's you. I'm sure the rest of them are all mad at me, which they have every right to be."
"They're not mad at you."
"Aww, sweetie. No offense, but I don't think you'd notice if they were. Just, enjoy your night, okay?" she said, making a move to close the door.
"But, Penny," he said sadly.
"Yes, Sheldon?" she asked softly.
"Who's going to eat the fifth shrimp in a blanket?"
Penny fixed him with a hard stare and then firmly shut her door.
Sheldon missed shrimp in a blanket. And he missed taquitos. Instead, he had to order dumplings or quesadillas, since those were served in fours. He liked dumplings and quesadillas just fine, but for some reason he liked the others a little better. Sometimes Bernadette would join them and Sheldon would be able to order his favorite appetizers, but he found he couldn't fully enjoy them.
That wasn't as surprising as how he missed Penny's frequent interruptions to his favorite TV shows. They had annoyed him originally, but eventually he became accustomed to them. There were even times now when something complicated would happen on screen and Sheldon would take a breath and open his mouth, anticipating the question that was about to come. But it never did. He would then close his mouth and drop his chin. Everyone accused him of not being self aware. But Sheldon realized now that he actually enjoyed Penny's questions because they gave him ample opportunities to show off his superior knowledge.
There were also times that Sheldon found himself in a social conundrum and his first instinct was to knock on Penny's door to ask her advice. He would stand up before he realized he didn't know if he could do that anymore. The first few times he would simply sit right back down again, but that resulted in many unrelenting questions from his friends. So Sheldon had learned to invent a new destination.
One Saturday night, Sheldon made his way down the stairs with his basket. He heard some frantic scurrying coming from the laundry room before he turned into the doorway.
Penny looked up from the washing machine she was desperately trying to empty. "I'm sorry, Sheldon. I swear I'll be done in just one second. There were still soap suds so I had to run it through an extra rinse cycle, but don't worry, they're delicates so I won't be using the dryer so everything will be out of your –"
"Penny," he said, interrupting her ramblings. "It's okay. I can wait."
"Excuse me?" She froze, looking at him like he had just lost his mind.
"Take your time. I'd rather wait than risk having to dodge your brassiere."
"Good point," Penny said and resumed collecting her items at a more relaxed pace.
"So, how are you?" he drawled.
"Oh, you know. Fine. How are you?"
"All right, I suppose," Sheldon answered despondently.
"And how is … everyone?" she asked, keeping her eyes fixed on her laundry.
"Well, my mother is currently suffering from allergies and insists on telling me about it, as if there is anything I can do from here, and Dr. Jenk –"
"Never mind, Sheldon!"
"What? Oh, you meant Leonard. He's fine. Sad, but fine."
"Don't tell me that," Penny whined.
"But you asked. And you know how I am with lying."
"Ugh, you're right. I just – I guess I won't ask anymore," she sighed. "Well, that's everything so I'll just get out of your way. Bye, Sheldon."
"Bye." Sheldon stood still as she walked around him. "Penny," he called out to her.
She paused in the doorway, her back still to him. "Yes, Sheldon?"
"I miss you." His voice was even. There was no complaint or accusation in Sheldon's words. He was merely stating a fact.
Penny turned to look at him over her shoulder. "I miss you, too, Sheldon," she said with a watery smile.
And then she was gone.