Written just for fun!
Disclaimer: We hereby deny ownership of Tank, Sam-the-Giant, Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Whatshisname. Don't belong to us. Thank god.
A/N Mikiya: Thanks, hun, I needed that. Really, really loved working with you on this one!
A/N Ghost: I got nothing. ;)
The Impala Conundrum
I always knew Sheldon would be the death of me. I knew it, I felt it, from, like, the moment we first met.
Okay, maybe not the moment we first met, because then I would never have moved in with him. But soon after we first met, a few scant months…then I knew he'd be the death of me.
I just didn't expect it to be over a car. Not that Sheldon is much into cars, he has a learner's permit that's disintegrating inside his wallet since he won't waste his time on getting a driver's license, he blackmails everyone he knows into driving him wherever he needs to go and on top of that he hates being on the road since he has to trust the other drivers to be better at driving than he is.
And Sheldon doesn't trust. No one. I think the creators of the X-Files actually got that quote from him.
So when he looked up and said, "Wow, would you look at that," and pointed at the big, black muscle car, I was somewhat taken aback.
It was a nice car, as far as cars went. I don't know a whole lot about them. Not much time for auto-shop when you're taking honors calculus. But it was a pretty car, I guess. Shiny.
"That's a nice car," I started, trying to placate him. After all, how often does Sheldon not only notice things like cars, but actually admit to noticing them?
He gave me a disgusted look. "Not the car. The game! Really. Why would I ever care about a car, for heaven's sake?"
He had a point. I looked again. And yes, indeed, there were a couple of guys playing rock-paper-scissors standing next to the trunk of the car. "Ah," I said wisely, feeling about as out-of-my-depth as only Sheldon can make me feel, "and this is important, why?"
Sheldon glared at me. "Because they're doing it wrong."
And those words were the beginning of the end. Because Sheldon did something he usually avoided like the plague, or, in his case, like not checking the sources in a discovery magazine or watching a TV show that didn't contain the words captain, asteroids or fire at will: He actually crossed the street after dutifully checking the traffic both ways, twice, and walked over to the car before I could stop him. I was left staring after him with my mouth hanging open, because Sheldon not only acknowledging life forms other than himself but actively seeking contact to them was just unheard of. When I could finally force my frozen brain into action he was already calling out to them and I had to watch helplessly how they both looked up and turned toward him.
"Sirs!" he called, marching across the street. "Oh, sirs! You are doing it wrong!"
"Oh, crap!" I hissed, and darted into traffic after him. All I could think was that Sheldon was going to die. The two guys watching him approach were both huge, one at least Sheldon's height, though heavier muscled, and the second was just a giant, easily three inches taller than my roommate, and strong enough to snap him in half. Their size alone should have been enough to send any self-respecting geek heading for the hill, tail tucked firmly between his legs. Add in the rough clothes, and muscle car, and even Sheldon should have known to leave them well enough alone.
But Sheldon has never been the smartest of geniuses.
The two guys were staring at the gangly geek bearing down on them, and I could see them taking in the backpack, the Keds, and the green lantern tee-shirt with obvious amusement. Amusement that could turn nasty at any moment, something that even Sheldon should understand by now – he'd went through high-school when he turned 12, same as the rest of us.
But he seemed oblivious as he strode up to them. "Really! Sirs! The way you play, you disgrace the sport! I demand you cease and desist right now! You have broken the law of averages and thrown the ratio all out of proportion! I mean, really! What's the point of even playing at all?"
By now he was in their faces, and I scurried behind, hoping like hell I could get us both out of this without broken bones.
Tank and Giant, as I had secretly dubbed them, didn't seem to follow Sheldon's train of thoughts—and I couldn't blame them, neither of all the other lower life forms ever did, the bigger one tilted his head to the side and put on a friendly smile that almost could have fooled me.
Sheldon didn't acknowledge their obvious confusion, he started firing words at them at such a rapid succession that even I had some difficulty understanding him and I consider myself at least half-fluent in Sheldon-speak.
"You see, anecdotal evidence suggests that in the game of rock-paper-scissors, players familiar with each other will tie 75 to 80% of the time due to the limited number of outcomes. I suggest rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock."
I had heard that one before, the exact words (and even the same intonation) when he had introduced Rajesh to that extension to the game and, just like back then, his speech was met with a completely confused, "What?" from the guy and eyebrows that were trying to climb up to his hairline.
Tank simply blinked at Sheldon without saying a word.
Sheldon looked from one to the other, rolled his eyes at them and started to… explain (other people might call it wasting even more precious air on something completely ridiculous). He even used his hands to visualize his words, but that effect was completely lost on Tank as he continued to gape at Sheldon like he was an alien.
"Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock. It's very simple. Look - scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and as it always has, rock crushes scissors."
I took my chance. They were…startled, confused. If I could grab Sheldon we could get the hell out of here before they trounced us. I took Sheldon's arm, smiling my big, nervous smile, my I'm-so-totally-harmless-hitting-me-would-be-a-waste-of-time smile. "Sorry," I simpered. "I'm really sorry. He doesn't know what he's saying."
Sheldon twisted free of my grip, glaring at me. "Of course I know what I'm saying. I always know what I'm saying. It's everybody else who can't keep up."
Giant's eyebrows shot up at that, while Tank's eyes narrowed, and I could swear I could hear the 'target-lock alert' klaxons ringing in my head. "Oh my god, Sheldon, you're going to get us killed…" I muttered to him through my smile.
"No, I won't," he argued clearly. "They are the ones in the wrong here. The way they are playing, the tall one is winning 100% of the time. Mathematically, that can't be allowed. So I will simply show them the proper way to play the game, and all will be well."
Tank smirked. "The tall one?" He started to say something, then frowned. "What does he mean, you always win?"
Giant rolled his eyes. "You always throw scissors. It's not hard."
"American males throw scissors 73 percent of the time," Sheldon provided… not helpfully. "My way helps correct that statistical anomaly. I believe it's caused by a need to emphasize one's genitalia… though using it too much actually makes you loose more often, so I can't see how it's helpful."
I watched them flush… and I wanted to hide…
For a second no one moved, including me, even though the run-for-your-life urges grew harder and harder to resist. Sheldon, as always, seemed completely oblivious to my panic and their stunned incredulity. Then there was this sound and I looked up – and up at the taller one and my first thought was he was having some sort of seizure, his body had started to shake and his face was pulled into a weird grimace. And then I realized he was laughing, hard, his shoulders shaking helplessly as he gulped for air. Tank turned to look at him and his frown deepened.
"Sam, what the hell?" His voice carried some sort of warning but 'Sam' ignored that, gasping out some garbled words I almost couldn't make out. I think I heard something like "upstairs-brain".
Tank stomped on the giant's foot. Hard. Enough that I winced. "Dude, we got crazy-people flanking us, and you think it's funny?"
Sam-the-Giant simply stepped back from Tank, laughing harder now, shaking it off like it was nothing. "Dude! He said…! He said…! Compensating…!" He gasped for breath, and then he was off again…laughing so hard he was nearly bent over. He had an oddly light, infectious laugh for such a mammothly big guy…or maybe that was just because I was so relived that he was nearly incapacitated by the humorous convulsions.
"What did he say?"
And my worry came back in a rush. Tank did not seem amused, either by Sam-the-Giant's outburst, or by the 'crazy-people' who caused it. I really wanted to be gone before Sam-the-Giant translated Sheldon-speak into rough-neck.
"Well, this has been fun. We'll just be going now," I tried, way past being embarrassed by the desperation I could hear in my voice. These two were going to pulverize us…at least, they would as soon as Sam-the-Giant stopped laughing long enough to get enough air to tell Tank what was going on. It was time to go.
But, once again, Sheldon had different ideas. "Wait. We must make sure they understand the proper way to play the game. It is obvious from the emotional reaction, that it just isn't getting through to them."
He seemed honestly upset.
And I honestly wanted to kill him.
"Come on, Sheldon, the comic book store's waiting, remember? The new Batman—" I started to hiss into his ear… well, shoulder, actually, and even tried to pull him away from them. Which, big mistake, I know that, touching Sheldon, or even his clothes, usually makes him go all frozen into place, which was kind of the opposite of what I was going for. So I wasn't really surprised when Sheldon turned on me and tried to pull his arm out of my reach, giving me a scowl and putting on his I am not amused frown.
"Unhand me, you simian!" he shouted at me – at me, for god's sake. The guy who was trying to save his ass, even if he wasn't smart enough about social situations to know it needed saving. "I will not be interrupted in such a fashion! Though I know it is probably a hopeless attempt to enlighten such obvious examples of the survival of the Homo sapiens neanderthalensis in modern times, even brutes such as these are deserving of some basic education. And I am a kind and patient enough person to try to impart my abundance of knowledge on even flawed receptacles."
"Yeah," I muttered. "You're just a saint." And as I saw Sam-the-Giant stop laughing, and Tank start frowning, I wondered if resurrecting the dead would be in Sheldon's miracle repertoire.
"Hang on a second, nutjob, get off whatever plane of existence you're cruising on and start talking sense here! What the heck do you want?"
Uh oh, Tank was getting agitated. And pissed. And I couldn't even blame him, God knows I've been there, exactly there more often than I could count. I cast a desperate look at Sam-the-Giant and when I found him not laughing anymore I knew that there was nothing I could do for Sheldon anymore, this was it. And I didn't know what to do about it, if this was me I would have been gone way before they even acknowledged my existence.
"As I said," Sheldon said, all arrogance and exasperation – a perfectly normal tone of voice in other words – "all I want is to fix what is obviously a long-term issue in your gaming skills. I'm trying to help you!"
Sam-the-Giant's mouth twitched. And, thank the lord and hallelujah, there was an amused tolerance in his eyes. I still figured Sheldon would die, but they might let me live.
"Calling us Neanderthals and insulting us is not helpful."
He had a point there, but then again he wasn't used to Sheldon-speak, he didn't know that what every sane person would see as a insult was actually not even meant to be one, it was simply Sheldon observing human reactions and putting them into words that made sense. To him.
Not for the first time I found myself wishing for one of those universal translators from the Enterprise, set to human-Sheldon – Sheldon-human, though, to be honest, I wasn't really sure they would have been able to deescalate this situation. I had to act.
"He wasn't insulting you…" I took a step forward, tried to get between Sheldon and the two of them, hands raised in the universal gesture of don't hit me, please, I won't bite. Their attention shifted to me and there was that fight or flight instinct again. Or, in this case, just flight. "I know that's what it sounds like, but— you have to understand, he's really trying to help you, he's just not used to speaking to other life forms—people."
Sheldon reared back a bit, staring down his not inconsiderable nose at me. "Of course I was not insulting them; the truth is never an insult, even to people who lack enough neurons to work a light-bright." Sheldon turned to the two rednecks. "I feel I must apologize for my associate's assumption that you lacked the ability to distinguish truth from sarcasm. But, in his defense, it can be quite a difficult skill to master. I have only recently learned it myself."
Tank blinked at me. "Is he serious?"
Sam-the-Giant snorted at that and was that humor I could see in his eyes? Before I could say anything he leaned forward a little, smiling at Sheldon in a surprisingly friendly and, most of all, non-aggressive way. "Okay, then, what are you trying to tell us?"
For a second Sheldon stopped and just looked at him, a little stunned, and I had to agree, because people normally didn't react like that, most of them simply shook their heads at him and left. But Sheldon wouldn't be Sheldon if his brain didn't come up with a proper response to friendliness, his bewilderment immediately turned into that pleased smile of his that usually drove everyone around him nuts in under 10 seconds. He had his audience now and he was going to make it listen.
Oh dear god.
"Fine, I will start again." Sheldon took a breath, tugging his tee-shirt straight. He brushed his hair back. He squared his shoulders. "Sir," he said, looking Sam-the Giant square in the eye, "You're doing it wrong."
"You're talking about the game, right?"
A nod. "Yes."
Another nod. "Yes."
"And we're doing it wrong?"
Sam-the-Giant looked down at Sheldon, eyed him for a moment—and then leaned back a little, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he asked patiently, "How? How are we doing it wrong?"
I couldn't stop myself from taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Here we go (again)…
I half listened to Sheldon explain the same thing (again) in the same voice and the same intonation, the exact same wording, and took the chance to watch Tank for a moment. He was still standing between Sheldon and Sam-the-Giant, watching my hopefully not soon-to-be-dead-roommate delivering a probability-speech to his buddy, but he was no longer tense and scowling at Sheldon, he was simply studying him intently. I thought he seemed rather amused than annoyed at that point and I could feel a little hope starting to build that we both might get out of this with our heads still attached.
Though as Sheldon ran through the expanded rules again, I started to hope that maybe they would kill him, and save me the pain. Maybe Wolowitz or Koothrappali would be willing to split the rent. Or, Heaven of Heavenly ideas, maybe Penny would like to move in. Yeah, she lived by herself at the moment, but hell, she'd save on rent and there would be other benefits, too –
"So, wait, this new way could make it so Sam couldn't beat me anymore?" Tank asked as Sheldon wrapped it up, breaking into what promised to be a delightful day dream and pulling me back to stark reality – along with its promise of broken bones.
"No," Sheldon answered. "If you still insist on playing like a brainless troglodyte, not even this will help you."
Tank frowned. Took a deep breath. And let it go. "Seems complicated."
Sam-the-Giant rolled his eyes. "It's not. He's just making it overly complex. He's added two new variables and expanded possible outcomes by five. It's just basic probability."
My jaw dropped. "You know probability?"
"He knows Klingon too," Tank said, trying to make his fingers spread into the Vulcan greeting.
Sheldon, however, was turning red.
Oh, hell. All hands on deck.
"Oh, Sujatlh 'e' yImev!" Sheldon hissed at us, almost spitting like a cat, and Tank's eyebrows went up to his hairline, I think he even took a step back from us and just stared at Sheldon. Who would have thought that it would only take an Alien language to stun him into silence?
Sam-the-Giant though wasn't that shocked; he cocked his head at Sheldon's outbreak and thought for a second, then, as if he did it every day, answered him. "qaStaH nuq?"
I swear to God I have never seen Sheldon look this perplexed before, the fact that this lowly creature would not only understand him but actually talk back seemed to be too much for him.
"Duj ngaDHa' puq lotlhwI' Ha'DIbaH!"
Whoa. "Whoa," I said out-loud, reacting. "Sheldon! Man, c'mon!"
Sam-the-Giant was frowning, and Tank's eyes widened, at the tone if nothing else.
"What the hell did he say?" Tank demanded.
"Nothing nice," was Sam-the-Giant's reply…as he arched one eyebrow at the foaming Sheldon.
"Nice?" Sheldon scoffed. "Did you hear that! He can't even translate properly! He dirtied the language! Imagine! Someone who looks like – like that!-"
"Hey!" Sam-the-Giant snapped.
"– And drives around in what can only be a Freudian cry for help –"
"That's his car, not mine –"
" – pretending to be a one of us! I won't stand for it! I won't!"
"Dude," Tank said, "It's not his fault he's a nerd stuck in a quarterback's body."
Sheldon whirled, actually whirled around to face Tank again. "That, sir, is an insult to any self-respecting 'nerd' as you oh so eloquently labeled us. I can assure you that we do not look like this—"
A bony finger was thrust into Sam-the-Giant's chest.
"—nor do we use such questionable means of transportation—"
The finger was lowered to point at the shiny car we were standing next to.
"—and even if we did or would, you can rest assured that we would know how to play rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock and would not need the help of strangers who were only trying to help!"
With this Sheldon leaned against the car, gasping, with one hand pressed against his forehead. "I am now winded, Sir! Winded! Shame on you!" He looked at me with upset eyes. "Am I perspiring, Leonard? Have they driven me that far?"
"You're not sweating, Sheldon. Calm down. Just… chill out, okay, and we can get out of these guys' way. We can get Milk Duds," I tried to tempt him. It's almost impossible to talk him out of one of his dramatic fits, and I didn't know how much longer these guys were going to tolerate us.
"Milk Duds?" Not surprisingly, suddenly he was breathing just fine. He pulled himself from the car. "I do like Milk Duds. But these two should be buying," he glared.
"Us?" Tank asked, totally floored. "Why us?"
"It's the most apologetic of the candies. And you owe me an apology."
Tank glowered, and pushed past Sheldon to look at his car. "If you scratched the paint, I'm gonna owe you more than candy."
It took me a moment to realize that this was the opening I had been waiting for all the time, they were distracted, both of them eying the car now, actually checking it for scratches as it seemed. I stepped toward Sheldon, grabbed his arm and pulled him with me, taking one, two slow steps away from them. Sheldon looked down at me, his not-happy frown returning.
"What are you doing?" he hissed angrily and I pulled him another few steps away from the car before I answered, keeping my voice to a whisper.
"I'm saving your neck, Sheldon, this lesson is over, you hear me? We're gonna leave them in peace now and…" I thought for a moment, watching his eyebrows go up in obvious disagreement again, "and we'll get all the Milk Duds you want, my treat."
Disagreement turned into a satisfied smile and when I experimentally let go of his arm he stayed at my side, walking away from Tank and Sam-the-Giant without looking back at them.
All I had to do was keep him moving.
Which was not easy as suddenly I heard laughter behind us. Not completely evil-jock…but definitely aware that we were scurrying away as fast as I could make Sheldon go.
"Crazy, man," Tank said, his voice fading slowly as we started across the street. "No more hunts on campuses, okay, Sam? Not unless it's a bar way after classes. I can't take the 'intellectual elite', dude. Though…"
Even as I kept pushing Sheldon forward, I couldn't help glancing over my shoulder at the sudden silence. Tank and Sam-the-Giant were sharing a look – then they grinned, fisting their hands. The chant carried over to us easily.
"Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock!"
Beside me, Sheldon smirked smugly. "Once again, I manage to spread light into the darkness of the common man."
"Oh, you were spreading it alright."
We just made it across the street when we heard it.
"Damn it, Sam! This was supposed to make me win!"
"Always with the scissors, Dean."
And I grabbed Sheldon's arm as tightly as I could as he squawked. "Just keep going, Light-bringer."
For a second I was afraid that he was going to balk – his steps slowed, his head went down…then he just sighed. "Some people are apparently destined to wallow in ignorance. Not even I can save them all, I suppose."
I felt a smile tug at my mouth. "It was a good try. Tell you what. I'll buy you two boxes of candy."
He looked at me, honestly appreciative. "You would do that for me?"
"Well…thank you, Leonard."
"You're quite welcome."
We stepped over the curb back on our side of the street, surprisingly alive and not bruised, mashed or pulped. Amazing.
Sheldon was quiet for a moment…then:
"Jumbo boxes, right, Leonard?"
I couldn't help the snort of laughter. Near death does that to me.
"Yes, Sheldon. Jumbo boxes."
translation for the Klingon we used:
Sheldon: "Oh, shut up."
Sam: "What's happening?"
Sheldon: "Offspring of a dirty, rebelious dog."