Title: Between the lines...
Series: Big Bang Theory
Edited by: Kiraral192
Posted on: 21/05/10
A/N Wow it's been a while but I feel like I've never left. This is my first BBT attempt so be gentle. I am seriously loving this show right now. So much that the other day my best mate told me I was pulling a Sheldon.
You know what? I'm totally taking it as a compliment.
Concerning spoilers I guess you could say it contains general references to season three. If you haven't watched any episodes from this season then you're still more than welcome to read on, but please don't flame me and say I didn't warn you.
That being said this is set sometime after Penny and Leonard have broken up. So somewhere in season three. I haven't watched all of season three yet because Australia is lame and gets everything years after everyone else so bear with me if things seem a little AU.
This fic is dedicated to queenofthedammed. She challenged me to write a story without a single word of actual dialogue and this is the result. It's not like I had any assignments due or anything. It's not like I can say no to a challenge. So thanks mate, I owe you one. *grins*
Fingers crossed I haven't failed miserably.
It all starts when Sheldon realises that Leonard is actually serious about moving in with his new girlfriend, Nicole. I.e. He watches Leonard, Howard and Raj walk out of the apartment with boxes under their arms.
From there on in, everything goes down hill. Sheldon, for all his whining and complaining that if he could afford the rent himself he wouldn't need a roommate, cannot handle the fact that his entire schedule will now have to be rearranged.
Leonard is patient and apologetic even though he has no reason to be, and tries to do everything he can to placate Sheldon. He promises that he'll still be around for HALO night. He promises that he'll still be around if Sheldon falls sick. He even offers to buy him the latest issue of The Flash. Sheldon, of course, is not impressed in the slightest. If Leonard was really sorry then he wouldn't put him in this situation in the first place. He'd stop this moving out nonsense and stay right where he was.
Needless to say, Sheldon was not invited to the house warming party.
When Penny offers to help Sheldon while he organises a new schedule she thinks that it is just that, help. Temporary. Non permanent.
Right. Who did she think she was kidding?
It takes her a few weeks to notice, but after a while it dawns on Penny that Sheldon has made no effort to arrange a new schedule. He doesn't ask her for her thoughts, doesn't mention any alternative arrangements. Instead, he simply expects Penny to fill Leonard shoes. In fact he takes it as a given. Penny doesn't know whether to be flattered that Sheldon trusts her enough to play such a pivotal role in his life, or offended that he doesn't think she has anything better to do with her time then work around him and his schedules.
Even if it is true.
Penny decides to go with flattered. Doesn't make her feel as pathetic. Not that Sheldon cares either way. He's happy as long as she remembers his special mustard.
At first Penny doesn't notice the changes taking place. They start out small. She starts driving Sheldon to work each morning and Sheldon in turn starts coming over on Sunday nights to watch America's Next Top Model with her. Sure, he complains the whole time that pseudo reality television is the opiate of the masses, yet he watches anyway. Why, Penny has no idea, but she reckons it's because, deep down, Sheldon gets a little lonely living by himself.
Not that he'd ever admit it.
One night a few weeks later Penny has a particularly rough audition. Brutal even. She doesn't expect Sheldon to notice her bad mood, in fact she counts on it. All she wants to do is crawl into bed and cry.
Of course as luck would have it this is the one time that Sheldon is actually on the ball. They pass each other in the corridor as Sheldon makes his way down to collect his mail. He asks her how the audition went and Penny flashes him a weak smile before fleeing to her apartment. Ten minutes later, Penny hears his signature knock and before he can even make it through the door she bursts into tears. Sheldon, to his credit, tries his best to console her. He awkwardly pats her back, he brings her cups of tea, but most of all he listens. He sits there and listens while she cries on his shoulder.
And for Sheldon, that's something quite extraordinary.
Penny isn't sure what exactly happens that night, but it changes everything. Within a week she and Sheldon are sharing meals together as though it's the most natural thing in the world. In fact, other than Tuesday's when Sheldon dines at the Cheesecake Factory for his barbecue bacon cheeseburger; barbecue, bacon and cheese on the side, they start spending every evening together. Thai on Mondays, Pizza on Thursday's, Chinese on Fridays, Penny soon realises that she's spending all of her free nights with Sheldon.
What's more, she actually enjoys it.
Despite Sheldon's several warnings and reminders to take a jacket when she goes out dancing one night after work, Penny still forgets and ends up catching a cold. Not wanting to bother Sheldon with her problems, especially considering he was the biggest germ-a-phobe she'd ever met, Penny barricades herself in her apartment with a year's supply of tissues, lemon tea and cough syrup.
Only a day passes before Sheldon comes knocking by to see what's wrong. Penny isn't sure if he's checking up on her because he's worried or because he's merely anxious that his schedule may be thrown out of whack, but to be honest she doesn't care. She's just happy that someone actually misses her.
To Penny's surprise Sheldon doesn't run away screaming the second he realises she's sick. Well, okay, he does, but he comes back once he finds his mask and a pair of gloves and spends the rest of the week taking care of her.
It reminds her of the time she dislocated her shoulder in the shower. Sheldon, for all his faults, does his very best at making sure that she keeps up with her medication. When she gets a fever, he runs her an ice bath. When she can't sleep, he sings her soft kitty. He even writes her up a fluids schedule. Had it been anyone else Penny might have been alarmed that someone was taking notes of her every cough, sneeze and bowel movement, but with Sheldon she knew he did it because that was how he showed he cared.
Even if he does end up getting sick himself a week later.
After yet another failed audition, Penny decides that maybe acting just isn't for her. It's a sad realisation, if not a downright depressing one, but she just can't take another night of crying on Sheldon's shoulder. Sure, he tells her time and time again that he's here for her, but Penny's pretty sure that he's only saying it because he thinks it how he's socially required to respond.
So she decides to take up teaching instead. She's always loved kids, and what better way to keep her passion alive then teaching it to others. Even if those others were teenagers. And thanks to Sheldon helping her study she actually manages to get into the Teacher Preparation Program at Pasadena City College.
At first she's nervous. Penny hasn't been in a school environment since she was seventeen. But surprisingly enough Sheldon turns out to be an excellent influence. All that general knowledge that he's been shoving down her throat has actually stuck, and Penny finds out that she's actually a lot smarter than she gave herself credit for.
Within a month Penny knows that she's made the right choice. She loves her classes, loves learning so many different things each and every day. Penny now understands why Sheldon spent all his time working at a university. She'd tell him this but she gets the distinct feeling that Sheldon would take offence at the fact that she's comparing Pasadena City College to CalTech.
Because, let's face it, Sheldon totally would.
Even though she's now at college, Penny still makes sure to pick Sheldon up from work everyday at six. So when she pulls up into the CalTech parking lot she expects to see him waiting for her. When he isn't, Penny wonders if he's still in his office stuck on a tricky equation. It wouldn't be the first time she's had to drag him away from his work.
However he's not in his office either. He's not in the cafeteria, and Leonard, Howard and Raj haven't seen him since they all sat down for lunch over five hours ago.
Penny starts to worry.
She tries calling his mobile but he doesn't answer. She then tries calling his home phone but Sheldon doesn't answer that either. Penny drops by the comic book store, she even drops by the arcade but still nothing.
It isn't until she actually checks his apartment that she finds him curled up in a ball on his bed surrounded by old letters.
Turns out, his MeeMaw passed away last night.
Penny falls to her knees when Sheldon tells her the news. His voice is raw, as though he's been crying for hours, and his eyes are splotchy and bloodshot. He doesn't try and kick her out of his room. He doesn't demand she leave him alone.
She wants to reach out and comfort Sheldon, pull him into her arms and tell him that everything will be okay, but she doesn't know how. So Penny does the only thing she can. She curls up beside him, never actually touching, and sings soft kitty until they both cry themselves to sleep.
Weeks go by and Penny is almost ready to call his mother again when one day, out of the blue, Sheldon shuffles from his bedroom to the kitchen where she is making him a cup of tea and asks her if she is interested in a Doctor Who marathon. He doesn't leave the apartment and he barely eats his food, but he starts talking again, which for once is a definite plus.
Leonard, Howard and Raj take turns visiting Sheldon everyday. When they can, all three of them even come over and tempt Sheldon to join them in a game of HALO. At first he declines, opting to remain in his room, but with a little encouragement from Penny eventually the boys are able to draw Sheldon out of his shell long enough that one day he actually beats them all and brags about it.
It isn't much, but it's definitely a start.
No one questions why Penny's always over at Sheldon's apartment. Over time they all learn to take it as a given. There is no Sheldon without Penny. No Penny without Sheldon.
When Sheldon leaves the apartment two weeks later to visit the comic book store, Penny makes him his favourite chocolate pudding. When another week goes by and Sheldon returns to CalTech, Penny surprises him with a signed copy of Leonard Nimoy's autobiography she had been saving for his birthday.
And when finally, three days later Sheldon calls his family to see how they're doing, Penny does what she's been wanting to do all along and pulls him into a tight hug.
What's more, Sheldon actually hugs her back.
Neither of them actually says anything, but over the next few months Penny unofficially becomes Sheldon's new room-mate. Sure technically she still lives in 4B, but other than showering and dressing the rest of her time is spent over in 4A.
Penny is sitting on Sheldon's lounge wrapped in one of his blankets when it happens. Sheldon strolls over and passes her a plate of French toast and their fingers brush slightly. It's so simple, so casual, yet it jolts Penny to the core.
Penny realises right there on Sheldon's lounge that she knows all of his schedules and all of his routines. From food to clothes, she's learnt them all. She knows his habits and his quirks. Little signs like a flare in the eyes, a cocked eyebrow, a squaring of the shoulders. Things that that only someone who really paid attention would pick up on.
Penny realises that she hasn't gone on a date in over a year. In fact the one time that she did get asked out she declined because it was HALO night. It was freaking HALO night.
But worse, worse of all, Penny realises that Sheldon has become so entrenched in her life that she can't imagine her day without him. She doesn't want to imagine her day without him. Whether it's helping her study for college, ranting at her because she left mandarin seeds on the kitchen counter, cursing at her because she's kicking his ass at HALO, or thanking her because she stays and sings soft kitty until he falls asleep, Penny doesn't care as long as it's Sheldon who's the one doing it.
Oh Dear God. She's in love with Sheldon. She's in love with Sheldon.
Now that she's admitted it, Penny has to stop herself from seeing every little action as a sign that Sheldon might actually care. The fact that Sheldon makes her coffee exactly the way she likes it does not mean that he loves her. The fact that Sheldon will let her watch Gossip Girl on a Tuesday night even though he hates the show with a passion does not mean that he thinks she's special. It's just Sheldon being Sheldon.
So when Penny and Sheldon are doing what they do every Friday night, eating Chinese and playing vintage video games, and he asks her if she would attend Howard and Bernadette's wedding with him, Penny finds herself trying really hard to act like it means anything.
Of course Sheldon doesn't see it as a date. Of course Sheldon doesn't see them as a couple. He probably just thinks it easy on both of their parts if they go together anyway.
Tears form in Penny's eyes. God, why was she doing this to herself? Why? What could she possibly hope to achieve by putting herself through this misery?
But then Sheldon flashes her that small smile of his, and despite everything, her doubts, her fears, Penny can do nothing but smile back.
The wedding is beautiful, and despite her best efforts Penny finds herself crying as Bernadette walks down the aisle towards a beaming Howard (who, for once, actually looks somewhat decent).
Leonard is sitting in the pew in front of her with Nicole. He spins around and their eyes meet. Penny smiles. Turns out she isn't the only one who cries at weddings.
When the Rabbi begins the ceremony Sheldon offers Penny a tissue from his jacket pocket. It smells clean and fresh, like him, and is folded in a perfect square. Her smile brightens. Trust Sheldon to make sure even his tissues are perfect.
An hour later Penny finds herself sitting in a corner table alone at Howard and Bernadette's reception. Raj is hanging by the bar downing grasshoppers and flirting with the single bridesmaids, Leonard and Nicole are congratulating Howard and Sheldon is over by the buffet arguing with a poor waiter over the fact that the tangerine chicken he's serving is actually orange.
Penny sits in her corner and watches them all—her most treasured friends, her second family—and remembers why she loves weddings. She loves how they bring people together for such a pure cause. She loves the emotion that fills the room.
She loves how she can't help but smile.
The scraping of a nearby chair alerts her to the fact that Sheldon has returned from his tangerine chicken tirade. From his muttering and scowling, Penny figures that it didn't go so well. She slides over a piece of wedding cake she's been saving him and lightly pats him on the shoulder.
Penny and Sheldon sit together in silence and watch as various couples dance and mingle around them. It's a comfortable silence, one she's used to when it's just the two of them. The kind of silence that speaks more than words ever can. Their chairs are side by side, so close that Sheldon's knee gently brushes against hers and Penny can feel his warmth through her cocktail dress.
They watch as Raj tries to hit on seven different women. They watch as Leonard and Nicole giggle and whisper sweet nothings into each others ear. They watch as Howard and Bernadette share their first dance together as husband and wife.
And then, as though it's the most natural thing in the world, Penny watches as Sheldon slides his hand in hers.
Well there we go. An entire one-shot written without a word of dialogue. Although its a bit rough I have to say that I do like how it has all come together. This style of writing is new to me so let me know how you think I went.
As always thanks for reading,