Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: I posted this awhile ago on LJ, so if it seems familiar, that's why. This is meant to directly follow 2.18 - The Work Song Nanocluster.

Please could you stop the noise, I'm trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head

After the Penny Blossoms debacle, Sheldon took a sick day, which was uncustomary but certainly not unheard of for him. When the Physics Department secretary asked what was wrong, he lied, tics blooming across his face, citing a slight fever and nausea. It was just as well that video phone was as yet only in its rudimentary stages of development for mass consumerism because the involuntary winking of his right eye would surely tip off Dolores that he was stretching the truth to an enormous extent.

Ordinarily, he would do no such thing, but these weren't normal circumstances. He could scarcely be expected to admit to his employers that he was, using the colloquial phrase, 'coming down' from a drug-induced reaction. It might have been excusable had the reaction been to a prescription medication, but Penny was most certainly not a doctor, putting the coffee she had pushed on him firmly into the recreational category of mind-altering chemicals. And going to work was not an option either. His frontal lobe throbbed, there was a great deal of nausea, and the occasional spasm still wracked his body.

The popularity of Starbucks was a thorough mystery to him that morning.

By mid-afternoon, through the ingestion of copious amounts of water, his headache had receded and he was able to eat a bowl of oatmeal without having his stomach rebel against him. The only television programming on in the afternoon threatened to lower his IQ so he switched it off, and turned on his computer which he had been avoiding as looking at the screen had caused him some anguish in the morning.

He answered some email, and pointedly ignored other correspondence, namely Wolowicz mocking him on his Facebook page. He puttered around the world wide web, with an annoyance tickling the back of his mind. He knew there was something he'd meant to look up but now he couldn't remember what it was. That was disturbing. He knew that drugs altered brain chemistry but he hadn't thought that one slip would so dramatically affect him. Who knows what else the demon caffeine had caused him to forget.

There were going to be some words with Penny, that was for sure.

And then it hit him - Penny. He had meant to research what this 'radio head' was that she had stumped him with. He assumed it was another one of her asinine so-called reality shows, possibly focusing on being the best disc jockey or some such hokum. When he Googled, he discovered that it was actually the name of a British band, who had enjoyed popularity from the mid-90s until present day. Not having much else to do, he listened to a few of their songs on You Tube while reading about them on Wikipedia and a few forums.

When I am king, you will be first against the wall
with your opinion which is of no consequence at all

If forced to give an opinion, Sheldon would admit that he didn't find their music wholly unpleasant, though he wouldn't be running out to buy their albums either. Mostly, he found the moaning of the lead singer somewhat mournful, which he supposed was why the music appealed so greatly to teenagers.

(Yet, there was something about the three tone shifts in "Paranoid Android" song which both intrigued and confounded him which was the only reason he bought the song on iTunes. It was a puzzle that needed solving.)

By the time Leonard returned from CalTech he was feeling much his own man again, and was able to give his roommate a sincere promise to never touch any sort of non-prescribed drub again.

Penny came over a few hours later, and Sheldon was fully prepared to not only read her a laundry-list of the indignities he'd suffered because of his caffeinated high, but to also give her a strike for pushing it on him in the first place. When he'd related as much to Leonard earlier in the evening, Leonard had indicated that he thought it wouldn't be a good idea, but then Leonard was always lax when it came to deviant behaviour by Penny.

However, much to his own chagrin, he felt himself wavering when she presented him with a cheeseburger made to his exact specifications and a gift certificate that he could use on future visits to the Cheesecake Factory. She explained that she felt very bad about encouraging him to drink the coffee, especially as she should have predicted that it would affect him more strongly than other people, and that she truly didn't believe they could have finished the order without him.

Mollified, Sheldon accepted the cheeseburger and gift card, and ignored the smirk that Leonard sent to Penny. He was willing to submit that it had been an honest mistake and that because of the lack of harmful intention, a strike wouldn't be necessary.

Later, as they set up for a game of non-Klingon Boggle (Penny's knowledge of the Klingon language could best be described as non-existent), Sheldon played the Radiohead song on his computer. Penny smiled at him and in a completely different way than she ordinarily did. She followed it with a quick kiss on the cheek.

As often happened with Penny, Sheldon couldn't quite decipher what had occurred, but for days after he would listen to "Paranoid Android" puzzling it out, trying to regain the feeling of warmth that infused his body when her lips brushed his face.

What's this? (I may be paranoid, but no android)