Author : Mirumo
Title : Happy Valentine's Day
Rating : PG
Genre : Friendship & Romance
Length : 3308 words. Wow, that is freakishly long; This is my longest TBBT OS, for the moment.
Disclaimer : Will you please send me a witty way to say that I don't own The Big Bang Theory? I don't have any idea for the moment.
I also don't own Star Wars, which, in a nutshell, is kind of my whole life.
Notes : After having watched "The Large Hadron Collision", what remained in my mind was the thought that, while Leonard was away, Sheldon and Penny were both sick and stayed together in 4A for Valentine's Day. And after a recent rerun of the third season, I had the sudden urge to add something after the "It's you, I touched you ! - Happy Valentine's Day ... " conversation at the end of the episode. Moreover, they were both sick, and we all know that, when Sheldon or Penny are sick, they sing « Soft Kitty ». But there wasn't any singing, so I really had the impression of something missing. Therefore, it deserved a fanfic.
Warning : though I am a huge Shenny shipper, this OS is more meant in a friendship than a romance way. However, it is obvious that I'm always exploiting the feelings they have for each other to turn them into a possible "thing". But for now, I see this story as the same kind as "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency" (my favourite episode of the whole show) : affection, caring and intimacy between them, resulting in a closeness that could be seen as growing love.
It was pretty hard to write, sentiments-wise : I'm not a Leonard/Penny shipper at all, but I don't hate or bash Leonard either, and I adore the Sheldon/Penny pairing, but I want it to be happen in a believable way, whether it's as friends or more than friends. Therefore, it was quite tricky to regularly remind that Penny was dating Leonard, but to keep the focus on her and Sheldon, and their hate-love-friendship relationship.
Oh, and for the umpteenth time, Youtube is your friend and you SO should go watch Jim Parsons at the Golden Globes if you haven't already.
« It's you! I touched you!
- Happy Valentine's Day ... »
Sheldon stared at her for a few seconds in this utterly shocked glare of his, then sat back in the couch, apparently still fulminating, but quietly. Penny looked at him in the corner of her eyes, and felt the exasperation which had started bubbling in her when the physicist had acted like a particularly narcissist jerk fade away : Sheldon had wrapped more comfortably the blue blanket around himself, and only his head and his hands holding the bowl of soup close to his mouth were emerging. With this pout and his irritated red nose, he resembled a sad child who had just be refused to eat more candies.
The young woman put down her own bowl on the edge of the table, among what must have been the loot of the robbery of a pharmacy, sat otherwise so that her legs were under her and that she was facing Sheldon, and looked at him directly, a wave of affection for the weird physicist overwhelming her. It was often in those moments, when he was somehow weakened and not being a condescending ass, that Penny remembered how much of a child-man Sheldon was. Even when you ended up being one of his friends, when you learned how to handle his endless speeches and his scornful comments, when you even could declare to the world without hesitation that you liked Sheldon Cooper, it was a whole other thing to manage him when he was sick or upset. He wasn't easier to live. He was even worse, if it was possible : still self-important and inconsiderate, but also clingy and whiny. Leonard, Howard and Raj didn't seem to be up to it. Penny knew that she, however, was able of taking care of a weak Sheldon. In those occasions, she was reminded of the fact that the theoretical physicist had ended up in university at 11, that he had been a professor, left alone all by himself in Germany, at 14, and that he generally was a tall baby in Marvel shirts who had achingly missed his mother in the paramount moments, though he was way too proud and full of himself to admit it.
Penny liked being this ersatz of a mother for him. She knew that it would be a Freudian treat for a psychiatrist, but she really did enjoy seeing his Vulcan carapace crack open and the little genius from Texas manifest himself. Sheldon let out a long suffering whimper, and mumbled in his highest-pitched voice that he was going to die, sitting even deeper in the couch. Penny, looking at him with a touched smile, couldn't contain a laugh. The lanky physicist turned his head with an offended look on his pale face :
« How is that amusing?
- I'm sorry, sweetie, I - », she raised a hand as to calm herself, « I just never thought I'd be spending Valentine's Day with you. I thought I'd be skiing in Switzerland with Leonard, not agonising on this couch.
- Oh. » Sheldon's expression somewhat softened, and he twitched his mouth, his glance lowering. « Well, I'm apologising. I guess I don't procure the best companionship on this time of the year.
- Oh, sweetie ... » Penny reached her arm and patted his shoulder soothingly. « Don't worry, it's not your fault.
- No, I guess not. » He thought for a few seconds, and added : « Though it is entirely your fault (Penny rolled her eyes, but let it go), I have to say that I also blame Leonard.
- What do you mean? » Penny's eyebrows furrowed.
« As you are currently engaging in regular intercourse, I thought that the conventional procedure in a relational paradigm is for him to take care of you.
- Sheldon, he explained it to me, and I'm not mad at him : it's for his job, it's important to him. It's a one-time opportunity, you said it yourself. I mean, you understand, it's your job too ; you'd do the same thing!
- As I'm not wasting my time in mating rituals, I would never find myself in such a dilemma. But as far as Leonard is concerned, he's always been held back by emotional issues. When we were preparing for our expedition to the North Pole, which, from a scientific point of view, was way more relevant and crucial than this trip to Switzerland, he seriously considered staying here because he had the very vague impression that you might want him to stay. Now that you two are somewhat of an item, and you are affected by the influenza on the one day of the year that high executives chose to be the occasion of an indecent and futile display of romanticism, with the secretly hidden true goal of mass consummation of bouquets of flowers, boxes of chocolate and jewellery, society would expect him to stay here, now, wouldn't it? »
Penny remained silent for a while, and watched her friend sip his soup. What could she answer to that?
« I really don't know what to tell you, Sheldon. You mean you'd want Leonard to be here?
- Dear Lord, no! He's incapable of taking care of me when I'm sick, and I'm perfectly happy that you are here instead of him. (She smiled at him.) However, you know that I'm not comfortable with taking care of other people myself, and I suppose that you'd rather have him with you than me.
- Oh ... Well, sure, I had other plans, and if I had to choose between being sick and skiing in Switzerland, I'd always choose Switzerland, but - », she shrugged, « I got sick, and you got sick, it happens. I wouldn't expect Leonard to stay with me, I know it means a lot to him ; if I got an acting job in another continent and he feel ill, I'd still go. So, I'm stuck here, and you are too ... »
She moved closer to him in order to cuddle against his arm, and smiled frankly at him.
« I'm glad I'm here with you, Sheldon. »
They ordered pizza. Sheldon insisted that Penny wore sterile gloves so that she wouldn't put all her germs on the phone, but she refused with a murderous glare the surgical mask he also insistently handed to her, and mouthed « You'll just have to buy a new phone, I'm not wearing that damn thing » while the guy from Jacamar's asked her what she wanted.
Sheldon wore the mask himself 30 minutes later, however, when he called back to complain about the fact that the olives on his sausage-mushrooms-light olives pizza weren't light. His whining wasn't audible, and the guy on the other side of the line hung up on the physicist.
He considered suspiciously Penny's pizza for about 6 minutes, then decided that, although all this cheese surely was a clever way to keep Leonard away from your food, it still made him nauseated just by looking at it. Out of food, he put his blanket around his shoulders again, and wrapped it even tighter (at this point, you could only see his narrowed eyes and his nose), sighing that the world was going to lose the greatest mind of the early 21st century because of the lack of concentration of the staff in pizza delivery places. Penny swallowed the last of her slice and looked at Sheldon wearily, feeling herself a lot better after having eaten a little.
« Oh come on, Sheldon, we can't stay like this! We can have fun, even if we're sick. » She smiled, eyebrows raised in a questionable look.
« How could I even think about having fun right now? » he whined. « I'm food-deprived, Penny! »
She thought for a while, then her face brightened.
« I know! Do you have spaghettis?
- Yes, why?
- I have hot-dogs in my fridge : didn't you tell me once that your mother used to make you spaghettis with chunks of hot-dogs in it? »
The blanket loosened a bit, making Sheldon's mouth appear, and his eyes widened with hope.
- OK! I'll make you spaghettis, I think I'm feeling better. »
She raised, while Sheldon straightened.
« Mother made it with marinara sauce.
- Do you have any?
- Yes, we have a 3-pounds jar of it, almost full.
- Why do you have a 3-pounds jar of marinara sauce? You hardly cook.
- Leonard wanted to build a papier mâché volcano and make it work, because the one he had built in school failed, causing him to suffer yet another childhood trauma and increasing his already dangerously high inferiority complex.
- Failed again. »
They shared the spaghettis. Sheldon generously acknowledged that it was almost as good as his mother's, and that he would found it even better if he wasn't sick, but he wasn't able to eat it all because of said sickness.
Penny thought that he must have been feeling pretty bad if he accepted to share a plate with someone.
They watched Star Wars. The original trilogy. Remasterised. It was 7 p.m., and they both had been napping so much the whole day that they didn't want to sleep. Sheldon had been nice enough to choose something that he knew she liked : she couldn't have handled a whole season of Battlestar Galactica. But Star Wars, she liked. It was pretty cool, and Harrison Ford was hot.
They settled for more than 6 hours of lightsabers and spaceships. Sheldon started to feel better around Yoda's entrance in The Empire strikes back. Penny squealed and clapped her hands together in delight when Han and Leia made out the next scene, which made Sheldon roll his eyes. However, he didn't say anything when she whimpered as the princess watched the mercenary descend slowly and come back cryo-carbonated. When the fight between Luke and Vader started, Penny felt the physicist shift a little to straighten, and she could have sworn that she heard him hold his breath a few seconds before James Earl Jones declared « No, I am your father ». Even the Inuit's know that Darth Vader is Luke's father, so you'd assume that a nerd who spent half of his life watching Star Wars wouldn't be surprised anymore when it is revealed. Well, you're wrong.
During Return of the Jedi, Sheldon noticed dryly that it was both ironic and a shame for him that Han Solo happened to be blind exactly at the same moment that Princess Leia was wearing the oh so famous Jabba's slave costume. Penny grinned, and answered :
« Well, she leaves Tatooine in it. I'm pretty sure that, when Han recovered his sight, he asked her to keep it to do nasty things in the Falcon. »
While Luke was in his X-Wing and talking with R2-D2, she looked for any sign of reaction on Sheldon's face. His eyes didn't detach from the screen, but he was approving silently, slightly nodding, his eyebrows raised. Penny shook her head with a smile and turned her attention back to the movie. Maybe Sheldon didn't have a deal, but she would very much like to do like Jennifer Aniston in Friends and appear before him in a Leia-Jabba's prisoner outfit to see how he would react. Whatever he was into, she was reading to bet anything that he wouldn't stay indifferent if it (girl, guy or sock puppet) was wearing a gold bikini.
It was past 1 a.m. when the rebels started partying with the Ewoks in the woods, and the blue credits appeared on the screen. Sheldon shut down the TV and turned his head to look at Penny, who was yawning.
« What would you like to do?
- What do you mean?
- Well, it's time for me to go to bed, and I would advise you to do the same and go back to your apartment. However, you're still sick, and the apartment is already contaminated with germs, so you can spend the night on the couch if you would like to.
- Thanks, sweetie, but I'll put you to bed and just head back to my place.
- Put me to bed?
- Have you seen yourself? You're trembling, and you're coughing like Yoda when he was dying. I don't even want to know if you're capable of walking to your room. Go brush your teeth and I'll come over in two minutes. »
She helped Sheldon go into his bed, and laid the covers on him meticulously. She rubbed lotion on his chest (counter clockwise) , gave him his medicine and put several emergency medicaments and the thermometer on his nightstand. As she rearranged his pillows, Penny felt his insistent glare on her. Sheldon was staring, blue eyes opened widely in silent pleading, not so far away from the cat in Shrek. She smiled, sat on the edge, put a hand on his forehead and sang Soft Kitty a few times. Her enunciation wasn't perfect because of the malady, and it certainly wasn't in key, but he dozed off quite quickly. She stroked his cheek, whispered « Good night, Sheldon », and got out of the bedroom quietly.
Around 4 a.m., Sheldon awoke abruptly. First, he thought it was because of his illness and his disturbed REM cycles, but a few whimpers reached his ears as he laid back. Still slightly trembling from coldness, he got up, put his robe and his slippers on, and got out of his bedroom. He didn't have to search long : sighing weak « Sheldon ... »s, Penny was leaning against the opposite wall. Her eyes were mid-closed, she was bare foot, and her knees seemed very weak, legs hardly supporting her body. The yellow tank top she was wearing was damp with sweat. Sheldon stayed in the threshold, examining her for several seconds, then asked :
« Is there something wrong?
- I'm ... I'm feeling really bad. I couldn't sleep because it was too hot, so I got up to drink something. I got a head rush, and ... I don't know, I feel funny, I keep seeing dots of light ... and I'm nauseous ... Can I sleep here? I don't have any medicaments in my flat. »
Sheldon suppressed the « Nauseated, not nauseous, Penny » he was about to say, and nodded.
« Alrighty. Would you like me to bring blankets to the couch?
- No, just a pillow, please. I'm already way too warm ... »
Sheldon, followed by a zombified Penny (arms along her body, eyes empty and staring into space), got back into his bedroom, took an immaculate pillow in the back of his closet and went disposing it on the couch, so that Penny would be facing the door. When he returned in his room, the young woman had stumbled on the bed : on her back, one leg hanging above the edge, she was looking at the ceiling.
« Why are you on my bed? »
Penny slightly turned her head on the side to look at him : she was pouting, and her voice was very similar to a child's saying that he didn't want to go to school.
« I don't wanna sleep on the couch, it's not comfortable ...
- You can't sleep in Leonard's room, you'll infect it with your germs. » he stated matter-of-factly.
« Yeah ... Can I sleep here?
- Penny, you're in my room, while no one is supposed to, and I'm already kind enough to not kick you out of it, because you're sick. However, you can't sleep in my bed.
- I already let you stay at my place a whole night and sleep in my bed, and I slept on the couch, » she whimpered, « you can sleep on your couch.
- No I can't! » he replied, staggered. « It's not long enough, there's no room. And I can't sleep in Leonard's bedroom either, I would contaminate it too.
- So sleep with me, we're both contaminated already. » she grumbled sleepily as she snuggled in foetal position on the covers.
Sheldon's eyes seemed to be about to pop out of his head.
« We can't sleep together in the same bed! People who sleep in the same bed are people who are engaging in coitus.
- What do you care, you're a homo novus ; I thought you didn't have mating needs, or whatever ...
- Of course I don't, but still ... It's an invasion of my personal space!
- Sheldon, » she answered wearily, eyes closed, « I've been invading your space all day ; I even took a nap against your shoulder and you didn't say anything ... Will you just move your ass and get in here already? I'm really not well, I can't argue all night ... »
Sheldon swallowed, breathed deeply, and finally gave in.
« Very good. »
He took off his slippers, his robe, but before he could do another move, Penny opened her eyes.
« Wait, wait, could you give me something to stop the nausea and the migraine? »
Sheldon sighed, but nodded. Trembling from the cold, he looked at the medicaments for a minute, then took two different pills, poured a glass of water, and handed them to Penny.
« Here. It'll help you sleep too. »
She smiled thinly, and swallowed the pills while Sheldon managed to get under all the layers of his bed and get into his creepy vampire position. Next to him, Penny stayed over the covers, cuddling on the side. She kept watching him somewhat dreamily, and it obviously disturbed him, because his eyes shut open after a minute and he turned his head, looking at her in return. He eventually asked her in a firm but soft voice :
« Would you like me to sing Soft Kitty? »
She let out a little « Yes ».
He sang the song repeatedly for a very long time. She never asked him to stop, but she didn't fall asleep either. She just listened to his voice carefully toning down whilst keeping singing, getting more and more quiet until it was just a whisper. Then, he set himself back to sleep, and she listened to his deep respiration filling the silence of the room.
Maybe it was a couple of minutes or a couple of hours later. She got out of a semi-sleep state, awake by Sheldon who had sat up in the bed. He was coughing roughly, sounding a lot worse than Yoda dying. Had she been in a Victorian novel, Penny wouldn't have been surprised to see blood leaking from the hand that was covering his mouth. She waited for him to stop coughing and lay back down in the bed, and she rubbed his shoulder gently.
« You're okay, Moonpie?
- No ...
- Do you want anything?
- No ... »
A few seconds passed by, then he turned to face her, looking like an innocent child. She remembered him looking exactly like that before thanking her, when he had spent the night in her apartment.
- ... Can you take me in your arms?
- Of course sweetie. »
She fidgeted to get closer to him, covers separating their bodies, and wrapped her free arm around his covered figure, placing her head between his jaw and his shoulder. He titled his own head just a tad, so that his cheek was stroking her hair.
They finally went to sleep.
A/N : Woah, that is one fluffy friendship story. I had the beginning and the ending already built up in my head, I just needed everything in-between, but I didn't realise this end was so gooey before I wrote it down.
I realised in the middle of writing this that « The Spaghetti Catalyst » happened after « The Large Hadron Collision », of course, and therefore it wasn't exactly logical that Penny would know that Sheldon's mother used to make him spaghetti with marinara sauce and bits of hot-dogs. But then I also remembered : Sheldon rambles. A lot. He often repeats what he already said a hundred times before, so I just changed it a little, and we'll assume that, in « The Spaghetti Catalyst », Sheldon is just telling her something that he already told, and she knows that it's useless to point these things out to Sheldon.
I also don't know if my Sheldon is OOC or not. He's awfully hard to write, you should know that. In order to only imply some Shenny like I did, you have to make him a little less obnoxious than he is habitually on the show, and think of him in his rare sweet moments, like in « The Adhesive Duck Deficiency » or « The Vegas Renormalization ». The moment you start writing Sheldon a little too kind or a little too attractive (though he is to me), you're objectively getting away from the spirit of the show. That's why I don't even want to think of how it would be if I wanted to do a M-rated fanfic. The Paradox fandom is not only a fervent and unique display of love around a pairing that is not even canon, it's also a frigging hard writing challenge!