All the Beautiful Boys
Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock.
Penny waited on her couch for the completion of the triumvirate. No point interrupting Sheldon, he was uninterruptable.
Seconds ticked by and she grew concerned. She half expected to find Sheldon lying on the ground dead (or at least unconscious) when she opened the door. Instead he was on his cell phone.
"Yes, Leonard. Only white meat. I know you can't process corn. Yes, I know why you are doing this. Please stop talking now. Very well. Goodbye."
Sheldon gave Penny a long-suffering look.
"Leonard is ill and he's being impossibly needy."
Penny laughed. Sheldon was not amused.
"I need you to drive me to the store to buy chicken soup."
It wasn't worded as a request because it wasn't a request. Penny debated fighting fate but instead she put on her flip flops.
And then she tripped on the stairs and broke her leg. Two days before New Year's Eve. Dammit.
Sheldon called her a cab instead of an ambulance in deference to her crappy health insurance. She didn't bother suggesting he drive this time. She had learned her lesson on that front. Sheldon had also learned, sort of. He occasionally flashed Penny a terrifying smile and said "there, there."
She'd had such an epic New Year's Eve planned. Club hopping, VIP rooms, a sexy new dress and shoes that looked amazing but could only be worn for minutes at a time without cutting off the circulation in her toes.
And Brad. Beautiful Brad... Well, she couldn't remember his last name but he was beautiful and he wrote poetry. Terrible poetry.
The only thing that could make her smile was listening to Sheldon talking to Leonard on the phone.
"I know, Leonard. I have a watch. Normally, yes but... I also factored mid-day traffic into my equation," Sheldon rolled his eyes, "Penny fell down the stairs and appears to have broken her leg. We're in the waiting room of the hospital... Other than her broken leg? She appears otherwise intact. I won't be able to purchase your soup until she has been discharged... If you don't need soup, why did you send me to purchase... We'll be addressing this at the next roommate meeting."
"Leonard's still being difficult?"
Sheldon sighed, "I don't know how I've put up with him for all these years."
"You're a saint, Sheldon Cooper."
"Thank you, Penny. No one else seems to see it."
Penny shifted position, sending a wave of pain down her leg that brought tears to her eyes.
"Is it ever going to be my turn?" she whimpered.
Sheldon's blue eyes were compassionate, "I'd speak to the triage nurse on your behalf but she made it very clear that I was on my final strike. Shall I sing 'Soft Kitty?' for you?"
"Please," Penny sniffed as she rested her head against Sheldon's shoulder. Tears leaked from her eyes and onto his Green Lantern tee-shirt. His voice was warm and gentle as he sang. It would have been a really sweet moment if the man next to them hadn't coughed without covering his mouth and sent Sheldon into a tirade. Still, Penny gave credit where credit was due. He was trying to be comforting and on some levels, he was succeeding.
Leonard picked them up at the hospital. He was looking a bit green around the gills but insisted he was fine. He was able to bring the car to a full stop both times before he vomited out the window so Penny imagined he fit some loose definition of "fine". Sheldon made him pull up his hood, zip his sweatshirt and pull it up over his nose to prevent contagion.
Sheldon had Leonard stop at the pharmacy to fill Penny's prescription.
"Do you require any food stuffs, Penny? I need to buy some soup for the real Slim Shady, here."
Penny asked for chocolate. As soon as Sheldon was out of the car, Leonard turned back to Penny, his face almost entirely hidden by his hooded sweatshirt.
"Am I hallucinating from dehydration or did Sheldon just make an Eminem reference?"
Penny laughed, the painkillers were working.
"Leonard, did you just GET an Eminem reference? I've been a bad influence on you guys."
Sheldon and Leonard helped Penny up the stairs. Leonard was white and sweating by the time they got her into bed. Sheldon left briefly to get "typhoid Lenny" settled in but promised to return. It was funny to see Sheldon, of all people, playing Florence Nightingale.
Sheldon returned, reeking of Lysol.
"I will be sitting in your living room. Call for me when you need food, beverage or medication. Do not call me for idle conversation. I will return in an hour to give you your pain medication."
He was out the bedroom door before she finished saying "thank you."
The next morning Penny called Brad and told him about her accident.
"That's okay, Penny. I can come to your apartment, make you dinner..."
"Oh, sweetie, you don't have to do that. You can go out with everyone..."
"Okay. Call me when you're leg is better."
Big dumb beautiful bastard.
Leonard was feeling better and took over as Penny's caretaker for the afternoon.
"I can't believe how nice Sheldon has been," Penny mused, "Well, not 'nice' per se..."
"I really felt like he cared whether I lived or died. He made me pee in the measuring cup and tore me a new one for rounding up and not noting the exact ounces."
"So my New Year's is totally ruined. What are you up to?"
Leonard looked sheepish, "I have a date. With a grad student. I think I have about two maybe three dates before she realizes I'm not actually any more mature or sophisticated than the other guys she's dated. In fact, I think I'm a step backwards."
Penny tried to be happy for him and failed.
"Sheldon, help me get dressed. I'm getting my money's worth out of this damn dress!"
Sheldon startled awake, "Make it so! What? Why do you need to wear a dress to watch tv alone in your apartment?"
It was New Year's Eve. Leonard was on his date. Bernadette and Howard were on a date. Raj was getting wasted at a physics rager. Amy was the designated driver for her mother. Everyone had plans but her. Everyone except Sheldon who had fallen asleep on her couch. It was past his bed time.
"Let's go up to the roof and watch the fireworks!"
"You can't walk up the stairs and I can't carry you."
"Just help me get dressed."
Sheldon zipped Penny into her tight, low cut, fabulous red dress. Then he suggested she wear a sweater. And sensible shoes.
"New year's eve is not about sensible choices, sweetie."
He also questioned why she was tucking the tag into the dress instead of cutting it off.
"I'm sending Leonard to take it back tomorrow."
"Then why do you need to get your 'money's worth' out of this dress?"
"Hush, sweetie. Hand me my crutches."
Sheldon half-dragged Penny and their Thai food up the stairs to the roof. He was wearing his black suit, the one featured in the youtube sensation 'a physicist melts down'.
"It's so nice of you to do this for me, Sheldon."
"It isn't nice. It's extortion. Once I find a new place to eat on Tuesdays, you'll lose your power over me."
Penny patted his cheek, "You know I wouldn't really spit in your burger..."
Sheldon had a look on his face like maybe he was going to leave her alone on the roof to fend for herself.
"I would never do that, sweetie... unless you really pissed me off."
Sheldon disapproved when Penny took her painkillers with champagne and gave her a lecture about the meaninglessness of celebrating the "new" year. Otherwise, it was downright pleasant. She made Sheldon take picture after picture of her on her cell phone until she had one that made her look hot (and didn't show her huge cast) so she could post it on Facebook. Let Brad see what he was missing. Then she took pictures of Sheldon. After about a dozen shots of him looking sullen, she asked him to tell her a joke. She didn't understand the joke at all, but she got a picture of him getting ready to laugh. His eyes were dancing with merriment, his mouth was almost smiling. He looked so handsome that Penny decided she needed a picture of them together. Right before she took the picture, she said, "first we assume spherical cows." She posted the picture on her Facebook page. Her and her handsome beau having a blast on the rooftop.
Even Sheldon was impressed by the picture.
"Looking at this picture, one would never guess we were freezing in uncomfortable clothing preparing to celebrate an arbitrary point in time after eating ice cold Pad Thai."
"What does it look like?"
"It looks like we're warm. It looks like we're having fun."
Sheldon agreed to toast at midnight and he managed to swallow his champagne. He didn't agree to a kiss but he didn't pull away when Penny pressed her lips to his. It was a chaste kiss. A kiss between long time friends. Penny kissed him again, a little longer this time. He tasted like peanuts and Moet. He stared at the fireworks and fidgeted with the sleeves of his jacket, his cheeks were flushed from the cold. Or maybe it wasn't the cold. Penny pulled him in for a third kiss but they startled apart when both their cell phones began beeping with assorted "Happy New Year's" messages from friends. Penny noticed Sheldon's hands were shaking as his long fingers danced over the keys.
Penny noted there was no message from Brad. There were messages from Raj, Howard, Bernadette, various girlfriends, and Leonard.
"Leonard says it looks like we're having a good time," Sheldon stares at his phone while he speaks. Even when he lifts his gaze towards Penny, he studiously avoids eye contact.
Penny touches his smooth cheek, he licks his lips nervously.
"You know if he's mad at anyone, it'll be me, right?"
"No offense, but I'm hardly going to rely on your drug and champagne addled reasoning."
Penny tries for another kiss but Sheldon turns his head and she gets his cheek.
"Leonard's already moved on, sweetie. They all move on. All the beautiful boys move on so easily..." Uh-oh. Penny could feel the New Year's eve melancholy coming on. Every damned year.
"I don't think I'd be able to move on," Sheldon's voice is deep and earnest, "I'm not a 'beautiful boy'."
He doesn't fight the next kiss.
"You're beautiful, Sheldon."
She's cold, her leg hurts, she's out of champagne but she's not ready to leave the roof. This is the best part. The best part of the year when you convince yourself that this is the year it will all come together. The beginning of a relationship when you can't imagine what could possibly tear you apart.
Penny pressed Sheldon, against his better judgment, to help her sit on the ledge of the roof to rest her broken left leg and aching but sexily clad right foot. He holds her in a vice like grip so she doesn't topple over the edge. He looks terrified. She kisses his cheek, his nose, his chin, his ears. His obvious confusion makes him irresistible. The evening would have a very different ending if it weren't for the cast. Penny decides it's a good thing. It's been years since she just enjoyed kissing a man without focusing on the next step. Without that cast, she'd be running to the bedroom. Without the cast, she'd be running to the bedroom with Brad, another brainless hunk. Her fall was a lucky break. Maybe that's why they say 'break a leg' when they mean 'good luck'.
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