3. Which One
Rory stood awkwardly near the door of the Tardis. Sheldon and the Doctor were standing on the upper lever by the Time Column talking in low tones. Occasionally, the Doctor had pointed to a lever or pointed out something on the console and Sheldon would nod solemnly. Rory had wandered over towards them and the Doctor had shooed him away saying, "Time Lord talk, Rory."
So Rory had went down to the lower level to talk to the girls who were whispering and giggling like long-term conspirators. They had went silent when he came near and simply glared at him until he turned and walked away.
He wondered desperately what everyone was talking about.
If he had known what Sheldon and the Doctor were talking about, he most likely would have been bored to tears. It was mostly technical things, well, as technical as the Doctor could get, he had a lot of made-up words for the various switches and dials used to pilot the Tardis that Sheldon hardly cared for.
Amy and Penny were having a conversation that was a bit more interesting.
"And does he talk really really fast using words you've never heard of?"
"Constantly," said Penny. "I don't understand half the crap coming out of his mouth."
"It must be in the Time Lord DNA," Amy laughed. "Listen, though, are you going to go with him?"
Penny was puzzled. "Go with him? Where?"
"Anywhere," Amy said. She was excited. Wiggling her fingers around, she added, "The whole of time and space is at your fingertips."
"But why would he want me to go with him?"
"Well, I only know one Time Lord. But from what I can tell, they're very lonely. He's had companions before me and Rory, you know," Amy tugged at the end of shirt. "I don't know how many, but from the stuff I found in the library, it looks like there were quite a few."
"I still don't understand why," Penny replied.
"Sometimes . . . " Amy hesitated. "Sometimes, they get carried away. They need someone to remind them why they do what they do. I'm not sure I'm explaining myself very well. But Penny, if he does ask you to go with him—and he will—you go. Don't even think about, just stop whatever you're doing, and you go. The whole universe is different after that, from the tiniest atom to that big old chunk of sky at night. It's worth it."
"Well," Penny said. She took a deep breath and looked up through the glass floor to where Sheldon was standing with the Doctor. He looked the same—smart, serious, intent. She wondered if he would still wear plaid pants and non-matching shirts. She wondered if he would still be upset that Firefly had been unjustly cancelled after one season. She wondered if he had a particular spot where he needed to sit in the Tardis. "Of course I'll go."
Amy grinned and hugged her tightly.
The ground shook violently and Penny and Amy were thrown off balance. "Doctor!" Amy cried, running up to the top level, Penny close behind. "What was that?"
"Not sure, not sure," the Doctor said. Both he and Sheldon were frantically turning dials and flipping switches. The Doctor pulled the monitor down from above and pressed a few buttons. "Oh dear. It appears to be—well, it's close to Earth's dinosaur—"
"Dinosaur?" shrieked Penny.
Rory had opened the door of the Tardis and was looking outside. "From the looks of it, it's headed this way."
"Penny, come on, we have to get back to our Tardis," Sheldon said, hurriedly rushing to the door.
"Our—" Penny started, but Amy gave her a friendly shove.
"Don't question it, just go." The girls hugged again, and Penny ran down the ramp, waving behind her.
"It was nice meeting you all—Doctor, Rory—" she paused and gave Rory a quick hug, causing him to blush slightly.
"Penny, we have to leave—" Sheldon began.
"Don't get your panties in a wad," Penny said as she ran out the door. Sheldon was right behind her. He paused in the doorframe, turned, and nodded slightly at the Doctor. The Doctor nodded once, slowly, in return. With that, Sheldon was gone.
"Oh, I liked them," said Rory. "They were nice."
Once outside, Penny managed to get a glimpse of the large creature. It looked roughly similar to a T-Rex, only a bright red color (then again, maybe T-Rexes had been bright red, how would she now), with arms that seemed much longer and fuller, as though it could actually run on all fours if it wanted to. It also seemed to have two eyes on each side of its head, for a total of four, and long, deadly looking spikes on its tail. It was still fifty feet away, but gaining fast. Trees looked tiny beneath, and it towered over the forest. The lake creatures had all made fearful mooing noises and were diving into the water like submarines.
"Whoa," said Penny, letting out a deep breath.
"No time," said Sheldon, grabbing her hand. "Come on!"
They scurried in a panic to the little castle and awkwardly shuffled inside as quickly as they could. The ground shook with another roar and a smash as they slammed the door behind them. They ran up to the console, Sheldon giving her orders.
"Third lever on your right—pull that cord—the green button-and here we go—"
The Tardis lurched in a similar fashion as it had before when they had left the apartment, and unbeknownst to Penny, theirs and the Doctor's ship were disappearing at the exact same moment a giant clawed foot set down in the grass.
After the floor stopped shaking and things were quiet, Penny opened her eyes. She hadn't realized she had squeezed them shut in fear until that moment. "Are we safe?"
Sheldon smiled. "Yes. We're clear."
"Wow," said Penny. "Just wow. That was really exciting."
"It was, wasn't it?" Sheldon crossed his arms and leaned back against the console, satisfied with himself.
Penny only smiled and went over to one of the windows on the side of the Tardis. It was small, and in the same shape as the windows on the play castle. Outside, she could see the violet, swirling mass of the universe. Stars shone in every color at various distances, and she wondered how many of those were not stars at all, but alien planets, full of more dinosaurs or little gray men, or those guys from Star Trek with the weird foreheads. She knew what wasn't out there. Nebraska. The Cheesecake Factory. Her acting career.
"Well," said Sheldon, stepping up behind her. "Where would you like to go first?"
If he asks you to go—and he will—you go.
"I think I'd like to start small," Penny said. "How 'bout the moon?"
Sheldon did something very un-Sheldony, then, something that maybe was because he was a reformed evil genius, maybe because he was a Time Lord, maybe because he had learned his lesson.
He reached out and took her hand in his.
Without looking at her he gazed out the window, seemingly lost in thought.
After a very long moment he said simply:
Thursday night. Leonard came home with a big paper bag full of Chinese food. Howard and Raj were already in his apartment, sitting on the couch playing video games. They exchanged a few greetings and expressions of hunger. Raj eagerly opened up his box of lo mein and dug in greedily.
"You know," he said after a few bites. "I feel like I haven't seen Sheldon in a really long time."
"Come to think of it," said Leonard. "Penny hasn't been by lately either."
"Eh," Howard said shrugging, "I'm sure they're around somewhere."
Leonard paused. "Yeah, you're probably right."