I've been working on this fic for two years. (And by saying that I have revealed exactly what this is to pretty much every Leonard/Penny fan I talk to on a regular basis. You guys have waited long enough!) It's long, and it's still not complete. But as I am not posting it all at the same time, I figured Christmas, with The Big Bang Theory's one hundredth episode fast approaching, was the perfect time to post the first chapter. Huge thanks to Roxanne and Amber for various ideas/advice/other help that they've given me.
DISCLAIMER: The Big Bang Theory belongs to those who create and market it. I make no profit off of this or any other work of fan fiction that I have worked on.
That said, I hope you guys enjoy this fic. I've spent a lot of time on it.
The pre - recorded mechanical voice announced the plastic boat's theoretical plummeting to the ocean floor with a decently enunciated, "Target neutralized. Battleship sunk."
"Dammit," Penny said, throwing up her hands in frustration. Not again. "Dammit, dammit, dammit." She looked over at her boyfriend. "Leonard, help!"
"He can't help you, you've already hidden your ships," Amy pointed out, shifting her weight to peer over her boyfriend's shoulder.
"He can help me hit Sheldon's," Penny said. She turned to look at her boyfriend. "Where should I shoot next?"
"Alpha seven." He said after a moment, resting a hand on her shoulder as he studied the board. "Wow, Sheldon, you haven't missed many."
"Of course not," the theoretical physicist said. "The Battleship algorithm I've worked out has an eighty-five percent accuracy rate, and when I combine the said algorithm with Penny's consistent strategy, it's fairly effortless to hit her ships. Also, Amy, you can see my half of the battlefield without breathing down my neck."
"What do you mean, 'Penny's consistent strategy?'?" Penny protested, realizing as soon as she'd spoken that the theoretical physicist more than likely had wanted her to ask.
Sheldon gave a small, haughty laugh. "Oh please, a hominid could predict where you've hidden your Destroyer."
"Oh, it's Junior Rodeo on," she mumbled, teeth clenched as she punched Alpha Seven.
"Typical empty threat," Sheldon said to Amy. "When she doesn't have an otherwise witty comeback." Amy nodded in acknowledgement, both of them cocking their heads slightly to hear the outcome of Penny's shot, despite the both of them knowing it already.
One explosion. Then silence. "Radar confirms 'miss' at Alpha seven."
"Leonard!" Penny said, feigning fury.
"Hmmm." He cocked his head thoughtfully as if it truly baffled him that they had missed.
Sheldon smirked. "As you can see, I am not consistent."
Penny mouthed "I am not consistent" at Leonard, and he smirked at her. She never got tired of his smile, and since they'd gotten back she'd been seeing that smile a lot. He moved toward his chair; she grabbed his hand and smiled up at him. Sheldon and Amy constantly pointed out that she and Leonard were in the honeymoon phase again, but putting a label on it didn't change anything.
Two loud explosions jolted them out of the moment, and their eyes turned from each other to a smug Sheldon. "Mua-ha-ha," he said, dragging out each syllable.
"Radar confirms 'hit' at Charlie fourteen."
Damn, my Destroyer! Penny's jaw dropped. "How the hell…"
Penny bit the corner of her lip and punched the buttons. Double explosion. "Radar confirms 'hit' at Delta six."
"There you go!" Leonard said proudly, rubbing her shoulder. She grinned up at him.
"Lucky shot," Amy said pointedly.
Penny and Leonard smirked at each other. "We'll see about that."
The celebration was short lived; Sheldon sunk her destroyer and patrol boat in the next six shots, dropping his accuracy rate to the percentage predicted before the game even started. "I must say," Sheldon said, getting up for water, "I had narrowed down my potential accuracy rate to a range of three percentage points, and I picked what turned out to be the correct one." He smiled. "Good for me."
"Sometimes he amazes even himself," Leonard joked as Penny.
"That doesn't sound too hard," she said, right on cue. They grinned at each other.
"Okay," Sheldon said from the kitchen. He took a bottle of water out of the fridge and set it on the counter. "You have already rendered me unable to watch The Empire Strikes Back; kindly cease with your corruption of A New Hope."
"It was just amazing. He knew exactly where all of my ships were hidden, it's like he has eyes in the back of his head!"
"Penny," Amy said, sounding as if she were trying very hard to be patient, "You know how whenever we play twenty questions Sheldon is Spock, and how Leonard uses the same password for everything?"
"Yes," Penny said, confused.
"Well…you tend to hide your ships in a similar pattern."
Penny looked at Leonard, who sighed. "You kinda do."
Beside Howard, Raj nodded in agreement.
"Well, since the secret is out…" Sheldon put down his comic book and sent a glare Amy's way.
"What?" the neurobiologist said. "You don't have anything in the relationship agreement that says in a game of Battleship that Boyfriend Trumps Bestie."
"We'll have to add it, then," Sheldon said.
"I'll only say yes if a second base clause is added."
Sheldon stared at her for several seconds, twitching slightly. "We'll talk. In any case, Penny, in the thirty two games that I have documented since you moved to this apartment building, you have placed a ship on Charlie fourteen in twenty one of them, sixty-six percent of the time. Of those twenty one games, the ship placed on Charlie fourteen was the destroyer in ten of them. You place your ships on the borders of the game screen in twenty-six of the thirty two games, which makes it not only predictable, but easier to sink the ships due to the limited number of spaces around them in which to miss."
Penny thought about it. "Hmmm, I guess you're right."
"You have no idea what he's talking about, do you?" Leonard asked her, grinning.
"Nope," she admitted, leaning back against him, and his hand found hers. "Not a clue." She linked their fingers. "Well, aside from the 'near the edges' part. That's fairly self – explanatory. And quite honestly, I'm still just trying to wrap my head around the fact that I've played Battleship with you guys thirty two times."
"You have played it seventy - one times," Sheldon said. "Thirty two of which was with me. Although if you are interested, your tendency patterns hold for all seventy - two games, although you win slightly more often when you play Leonard due to his inability to pick up on your patterns as well as me." He smiled smugly, and then looked at his girlfriend. "Amy, I think that Penny isn't well suited for battleship. Wouldn't you agree?"
"There is a certain learning curve to the game," Amy said. "However, you'd think she'd have mastered it by now."
"You know what?" Penny said. "I think I may do something a little more my intelligence level."
"Are you going to…oh…" Sheldon said, making a face as Penny grabbed Leonard by the ears and mashed her mouth on his. Leonard cringed until Penny let go of his ears and then proceeded to participate actively in Operation Weird Sheldon Cooper Out.
"Awww, now isn't this sweet," Amy said to Raj. "Didn't someone teach them to refrain from PDA in public?" She glanced at Sheldon. "Not that it wouldn't be nice once in a while..."
"They were engaged in extreme PDME the other day, rendering the atmosphere extremely awkward while I was trying to watch Dr. Who." Sheldon said, making a face.
"What the hell is PDME?" Penny asked, pulling away from Leonard to raise an eyebrow at Sheldon.
"Public Display of Making Eyes," Leonard said under his breath. "That's his new gripe."
He nodded. "Seriously."
Reviews are awesome, of course. ;) And because some reviews I get really don't give me any indication if the reviewer has read the story or just skimmed it, here's a little incentive. At the end of the fic, I'm going to ask a question about it. It's not going to be something you can just go look up. The first person to give me the right answer gets a prize. :D