Author's note: I love Big Bang so much, particularly Sheldon! I decided to write a fanfic involving him, but because I love his relationship with all of the already known characters, I didn't want to change them. Lenoard is also central to my story, and Penny and I'm not quite sure where its going but we'll see. Oh and I aplogize now for any mistakes, I tend to miss them when I read over. So, enjoy!
Chapter One: Odd Occurrences and Bizarre Behaviour
"Oh hey Leonard. Bye Leonard." Penny glanced over her shoulder and frowned as she watched him hurry down the stairs and out of sight. She opened the door to his and Sheldon's apartment. She sat down on the leather sofa.
"What's wrong with Leonard?" she asked, as the boys watched Howard wiring some robot or rather.
"No idea, he's been a bit strange recently." Raaj nodded in agreement.
"I propose that his change in behaviour is related to the odd phone call he received at the beginning of the week." Sheldon added.
"It involved him repeatedly asking the other participant of the conversation to slow down. He left straight away, giving no indication of where he was going I might add. So much for safety. Oh and he was mad, evident from the way he ignored my questioning him where he was going at such a late an hour, and the door slamming."
"I'm sure he's fine. He's just probably sexually frustrated or stressed at work." Howard piped up, before lifting up his goggles and brushing his still gloved hands against his overalls. Penny didn't pry further, but she knew something wasn't right. She guessed she'd just have to make sure with him that he was ok when she saw him next.
Leonard returned later, looking upset and exhausted to say the least. He didn't offer a hello or how are you, just began rummaging through the draws. It was unusual for him not to greet anyone, he was always polite, a trait he exercised even more because of Sheldon's lack of it.
"Sheldon do you know where the number is for Praltok?" Everyone apart from Penny stared.
"Jonathon Praltok is the most arrogant egotistical, tarzan of a man we've ever met." Howard informed her.
"He's also a brilliant doctor who has been recognised for his breakthrough in medical research. What do you want it for?" Sheldon turned to Leonard, curious as to why Leonard wanted to talk to a medical doctor, or as Penny put a 'doctor doctor'.
"I just want to enquire a few things." Leonard hurried, and his friends all took that as a hint not to take it any further. Sheldon told him and Leonard left again, saying not to wait up for him. Penny saw the worry in the boys' faces and didn't realise they were reflecting her own expression.
"I thought Jonathon Praltok specialised in cardiac." Howard said.
"That is his area of expertise." Sheldon said automatically. They all stopped and looked at each other.
"Do you… do you think he's alright?" Penny asked, trying to hide the emotion in her voice. They assured her he was fine, but in truth they didn't know, he had been acting so weird the past week.
Sheldon made a cup of coffee and sat down to eat his scrambles eggs. He was furious with Leonard who had missed games night. He had put down the others' worry and paranoia to jumping to conclusions too early, but even he himself had observed the change in Leonard, who all of the sudden had become closed off and private. He frowned as Leonard came out of his room.
"Sheldon, I said I'm sorry ok? I just had… stuff to do."
"Do you have a new sexual partner? Or are intimate with somebody in someway? Because that is the only reason that I can think of for you to miss games night, and even if you did have some form of relationship with a female, you would have told me. Your lying, and since your lying, I am no longer speaking to you." Take that, he added silently, upset and now understanding the feeling of being replaced.
"Sheldon I'm…" When Sheldon began doing 'lala' sounds to drown the sound of his voice out Leonard stopped talking.
"Sheldon you said you wouldn't talk to me but you never said you wouldn't listen so just hear me out ok?" HE shot out quickly before Sheldon could offer some kind of protest. Sheldon put down his plate and brushed of some imaginary dirt on the shoulder of his blue top before turning to Leonard and staring, waiting for an explanation that had already been judged as unsuitable for Leonard's distant behaviour.
"I've just been so caught up with… with what I'm doing, and I'm trying to process it myself. I don't want to talk about it because… because if I say it out loud then it will be true, but if I keep it to myself its like its not real."
Sheldon opened his mouth to speak, but Leonard got there first.
"And I know its not rational, and I know that my saying something doesn't change it from fiction to fact, or withholding speaking it makes it remain fiction, but its just how I'm dealing with it. Emotions aren't always rational." He looked at his friend who he could see was just about maintaining to keep his mouth closed and refrain from whatever scientific suggestion he had to prove Leonard wrong.
"No they're not Sheldon. Its what separates us from the lesser animal. From machines."
"I was just going to say your phone's going." Sheldon picked up his plate. His expression was slightly softer and he made sure he was observing everything clearly when Leonard went stiff and nervous after looking at the phone, he must have seen the caller ID.
Who would put him so on edge? Sheldon asked in his head, he ran through all the people they knew, but could not think of any unpleasant encounters or misunderstandings with friends or arguments or disagreements or anything that would make someone so jittery.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Leonard said, discomfort and worry in his voice. Sheldon noted the way Leonard clutched the phone with both hands and how he began the conversation with such a negative indication. He leaned forward, straining to hear the caller through the phone line, no such luck.
"Wait what? I thought you weren't arriving until next week?" Leonard went from worried to excited in a heartbeat.
"Ok ok ok. I'll be right there!" He threw the phone onto the sofa and ran out the door. \Sheldon followed him, completely bewildered.
By the time Sheldon reached the last flight of stairs. Leonard was already there, picking up and hugging, spinning around, a girl…? He cautiously moved down the stairs. And he gasped when he realised who it was.
The beautiful girl with long dark wavy hair turned and smiled.
"Hey Sheldon." she was beaming, but Sheldon saw the deathly pale look she had- there was almost a bluish tint to her white flawless complexion, and the dark almost bruised circles around her eyes. Sheldon smiled and shook her hand warmly.
"How long are you in America for?" He asked, noticing the large rucksack and suitcase.
"I'm not sure." Her English accent made her sound posh, but the silky tone her voice had, and her warm gaze dismissed any snobbery people may have thought she had based on first impressions.
Leonard put an arm around her, showing his affection, and a slight protectiveness.
"Where are you staying?"
"Again, not sure. I came here straight from the airport."
"I told you I'd pick you up." He said, somewhat authoritvely.
"I wanted to surprise you."
"well, your staying with us. Anywhere else is out of the question." Sheldon decided, and he caught a grateful look from Leonard. He wondered what that could have meant, but ignored it, as the girl looked down at the floor. She looked up again at Sheldon, her blue eyes tired.
"Of course. It would be excellent if you remember everything when you stayed with us before?" Sheldon asked hopefully, he wouldn't mind explaining the rules again for her, but it would be good if she had happened to remember them.
"Sheldon that was six years ago, she was 15!" Leonard frowned. She laughed.
"I remember." Sheldon nodded enthusiastically. He then went to pick up her rucksack. She immidietly shot a glare up at Leonard, who shook his head quickly. She hesitated before looking back at the tall young scientist.
"I can get that you know."
"I'm trying to be more sociable. You know the concept of a gentleman holds a very certain value with the upper-class English society. Carrying heavy objects such as luggage for young ladies is considered a part of the etiquette and shows that the person whose home it is a decent host."
"That's nice Sheldon, but it's a little traditional and sexist don't you think? And I'm not middle class, but thank you." Sheldon nodded, still holding the rucksack and lead the way up the stairs, Leonard grabbing her suitcase.
They reached their floor, and it was only then Sheldon realised they had been locked out, he had forgotten his keys when he had followed Leonard out.
Leonard sighed and turned and knocked on Penny's door.
"Cool shirt." The girl said quietly, looking up at Sheldon.
"Thank you. Do you like Superman?"
"I've never actually seen any of the films or read the comic books. I like the idea of it though." She said, hoping it wouldn't taint his view of her.
"Well I'll just have t make sure you watch them during your stay with us."
Penny looked over when she heard a girl talking. Her eyes narrowed as she came back with the keys to find Leonard hugging the beautiful girl.
"I still can't believe you're here." He kissed the top of her head. Penny, hiding her hurt, cleared her throat so she wasn't left out.
"Penny this Lani. Lani this is Penny, our neighbour." Penny caught the knowing smile she gave Leonard.
"Nice to meet you Lani."
"Lilliannia." The girl said instantly, a bit snappish. She looked embarrassed as she realised she had been a bit too short with Penny, and she added softly.
"My name is Lilliannia."
"But I call you Lani."
"That's because you know me Sheldon." Sheldon quietened as recognised the tone in Lani's voice.
"Lilliannia" Penny repeated, as she walked across the hall to unlock the door she raised her eyebrows.
"You should get some sleep. Or do you want to eat first?" Leonard fussed as he led the girl through the door.
"Thanks Penny." He yelled back dismissively over his shuoulder.
"No problem." Penny said sarcastically as she stormed into her own room, leaving a confused Sheldon standing by himself.
"I don't think you should be sleeping on the couch." Leonard again fussed, sitting his own arm chair and watching her wrapped up in a blanket with a bowl of steaming noodles.
"Its fine Leonard." She warned, Sheldon looked between them, was he missing something- was their glaring a silent conversation through body language in which the slightly aggressive movements meant a disagreement or was reading into too much, overcomplicating a simply bodily functional instinct? He was never too sure, his observations and comments on behaviour, or at least the answers he deduced from them always seemed to upset people, so he decided to best leave it alone, for the moment anyway.
He sat down in his seat with his takeout. The tv was on but it held no interest for any of them. Leonard was too busy worrying over Lilliannia, looking for signs of fatigue or pain, and Sheldon was explaining some theory or rather.
"So that pretty blonde girl was Penny huh?"
"Oh yes Penny. She's a pleasant person, when she's not mad at you or being intolerably argumentative and even then completely flawed in her structure and content. I wish she was a bit more intelligent though, honestly the things I have to walk her through. The metaphor being used most accuretly, she really does need guiding to understand the simplest of things." Sheldon said before Leonard could get a word in.
"Yes that's Penny. You think she's pretty?" Leonard ignored Sheldon's view, anyone who didn't know string theory or quantam physics was stupid to Sheldon.
"Are you kidding me? She's gorgeous."
"Actually Penny is what one may consider conventional appealing. Mainstream if you will. The blond hair and lightly tanned skin with a body frame of thin and curvy would portray her as pretty, but one of many, which may be why its been so hard for her to find an acting job. So many pretty girls look like that now, producers prefer actors with remember able features. Now, you Lani, would be considered an odd looking girl, simply due to the fact your most fundamental, or biggest features; hair and skin; are completely different, even opposite to the typical view of beauty. But if one looks at you, they find that your face is slightly shy of symmetrical- a hint of the golden or beauty ratio, and your eyes are large enough to stand out but not so big as to bring about the bug-effect. I'd say one of the very few flaws is that your pale complection looks sickly. Do you wear any make-up or powder to whiten your skin?"
"No Sheldon, I don't wear make-up, at all."
"You really are pale then."
Lilliannia was focusing on trying not to blush and panic. Sheldon had called her beautiful, but it was just an observation, not his personal opinion. Leonard looked ready to hit the roof, he hated any reminder of what was happening to her. And what he had pointed out, the whiteness of her skin, had done just that.
"Back to Penny, so you really like her then. How come you didn't ask her to come over and join us for tea?"
"Could you explain to me the obsession the British have with drinking tea? Because it was first made in China, and other than some sort of tradition to celebrate the nationality, I can't think of any reason."
"We aren't Sheldon. I meant tea as in food, you know like dinner."
"Oh. My bad." Lani and Leonard looked at him, and he explained he was trying to use more slang and colloquial terms to be more open towards people, so they would find him more accepting. It didn't seem to be working practically and certainly not as well as his theory suggested it would.
"Because. I have more important things to be thinking about." Lani shook her head, and Leonard returned to eating his food, not wanting an argument, especially on her first night here.
A knock on the door and Leonard put his bowl down harder than necessary on the coffee table. Sheldon jumped a little and looked at him.
"I told them they couldn't come round tonight."
"Leonard they're your friends. They just want to hang out."
"Maybe tomorrow when your more rested."
"I am fine." Lani said slowly, angrily.
"Why wouldn't you be fine? It seems a bit of an odd thing to declare. I could make the statement I'm fine and nobody would mind because there is no indication as to otherwise. In fact saying it, arises the possibility that the person is not fine at all. There's nothing wrong is there?" Sheldon looked to Leonard, all seriousness.
"No Sheldon. Everything is fi… normal."
"Its not normal. Not compared to the last few years which have been the norm for us. I mean your sitting here, that's not normal, it's a complete change in daily routine, and on an even bigger scale than that, a weekly or monthly or yearly routine. it's the opposite of the norm, normal."
The knocking continued, this time louder.
"I'm coming!" Leonard called out. He opened the door, and picked up his bowl, pushing Lani up on the sofa so she was between him and Sheldon, he didn't want Howard sitting next to her.
At first they didn't notice her, they simply sat down in the available chairs and began talking about work. It was only when Penny came in shortly after they noticed her, the light blue blanket wrapped around her lower body, legs tucked underneath her.
"I'm so sorry I haven't introduced myself. Howard Wallwiz. And you would be…?"
"Lillainnia." She answered, eyebrows raised at his cheesy and bad attempt to be smooth and cool and charming.
"Well, no-last-name-Lilliannia. May I say that you are one fine creature."
"No you may not." She said clearly, and Howard took that as a point to make reference to her accent.
"Oh from across the pond eh? Then I know that intelligence may be better suited to you. Your beauty is nothing like the sun…"
"Is he seriously quoting Shakespeare to try and get lucky?"
"Get lucky, no that's a misunderstanding. But if your suggesting it I hold no complaints." He added very quickly and painfully seriously.
"…" Raaj made a high-pitch and incoherent noise, and Howard turned to him.
"Fairytale?" Howard repeated, confused and then raaj nodded towards her.
"No, that's a horrible compliment…"
"Thanks. I like fairytales." Lilliannia smiled at Raaj, who ducked down, but looked up and shrugged, smiling.
"In that case.. Oh fair maiden, damsel in distress, might you be in need of being rescued….?" Howard began.
"Howard… back off." Leonard snapped, putting his own empty bowl and Lilliannia's half full back on the table.
"I'm sorry I didn't realise she was taken. How did you manage to snatch up something like that?"
Lilliannia had a look of disbelief on her face.
"Do you know how insulting you are? Taken? Snatched up? That? You don't even know who I am and your trying it on with me. Don't you think you can give me and yourself a little more credit than that?"
"I beg your pardon?" Howard looked hurt, but knew he had taken it a step too far. He always took it a step too far.
"Look, if you stopped acting so desperate that you would throw yourself at a stranger, maybe you'd actually make a connection with someone. By acting like any woman will do, it means, no offense that not a lot of women have chosen you. She'll think there's a reason why nobody will choose you." It was silent for a while before Howard looked up.
"That's so simple its brilliant. Genuis really."
"Is he always like this?"
"Oh yeah. All the time." Penny came in, and everyone said hey. She had changed into little denim shorts and a halter-neck pink top, her hair loose and shiny. She wasn't sure where to sit, she decided to sit on the arm of the sofa, next to Leonard, he wasn't snuggled up to Lilliannia so that was a good sign.
"Penny you are looking remarkably good looking…"
"In your dreams Howard." Penny cut in, almost out of habit.
"Hey that's fine by me, makes it a possibility."
"…" Raaj whispered in Howard's ear again.
"So, how do you know each other? Are you in a reltionship? Hey if you were seeing someone why didn't you tell us Leonard?" Howard asked, adding his own question onto Raaj's.
"Oh no. Leonard and Lani aren't in a relationship. They're siblings." Sheldon informed everyone. They just turned and stared at the two.