Title: Inconclusive

By: itakethewords

Summary: There's finally a test that Sheldon can't ace.

"I don't understand why asking to see that man's credentials is considered rude. I just wanted proof that he's qualified," Sheldon huffed, looking out the window of the rental car. Next to him, Penny made a face.

"You wanted him to drum up three references from his teachers-who are all dead or retired-and wanted him to take an exam you downloaded on your phone. I think he had every right to kick us out. You're lucky he gave us our paperwork before you insulted him."

The car became quiet as Penny replayed the last two days in her mind. The drive yesterday to Sacramento had been long and dull. When Sheldon had asked her to drive him up for an appointment he couldn't miss ("A promise I made to my mother. And if I miss she will, as she said, 'tan my hide so hard, not even Jesus could heal me'. So I see no reason not to go."), Penny told him no flat out. It wasn't until he said he would pay to rent a car, the gas, and food that she reluctantly agreed.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until the initial drive up, when they stopped outside of Fresno, that Penny thought to ask what kind of test Sheldon was undergoing.

Sheldon finished chewing his hamburger ("Sub par to my usual Tuesday option as well as the Big Boy, but it will do."), and sighed.

"I have been asked to partake in a psychological evaluation to further determine my intelligence, among other things."

It was there. Just so, but Penny saw it. The nerve under his eye twitched.

"What other things, Sheldon?"

"It was suggested by Dr. Gablehauser several months ago, via email, that I follow up on my initial test of mental competency and intelligence measure. The paperwork is all in my personal and professional file, as these kinds of tests are. Seeing as it has been some time, he stressed that I do this."

Penny blinked. "And..."

"I told him no. Then he said if I didn't comply, he would fire me again. When I denied the second time, he told my mother on me."

Penny laughed loudly, "Sheldon!" and Sheldon pouted the rest of the ride, frown semi-permanently fixed on his face every time Penny chuckled to herself.

The moment they'd gotten to the fourth floor where Sheldon's battery of tests would be given, he'd begun to criticize everything from the staff to the inferior and unaesthetic colors of the walls.

"No polite hello, just pointing and grunts. You'd think we'd walked into a time fluctuation and stepped back in a cave man's dwelling," and "Really, if they wanted to keep people from going on an insane tirade, they should do a more soothing color than a muted orange."

The receptionist looked unimpressed when Sheldon introduced himself, titles and all. She merely handed him a clipboard with paperwork, told him to sit and fill it out truthfully, and that she'd check him in as present and accounted for. In Sheldon fashion, he applied the same amount of contempt for his paperwork as he had for Penny's the time he'd taken her to the hospital. He'd tried to make a few comments on the wording of questions to Penny, but when he looked over, she was immersed in some sort of text or email on her phone. Other than a few huffs and unintelligible mutters, he stayed quiet as he filled out his six page questionnaire.

The nurse came for him twenty minutes after he'd finished and turned his clipboard back in to the grumpy receptionist and started to lead him to an office. When he turned back to see Penny still sitting in reception, he sighed. "Come along, Penny."

"Sheldon," she said, standing and sliding up next to him. "Sweetie, this seems a bit...private. I don't think you really need me in there for this."

"Your girlfriend is allowed back in the office for some portions of the testing. She won't be allowed out of Dr. Peridot's office for others," the nurse supplied, trying to be helpful.

"I'm not his girlfriend."

"She's not my girlfriend."

"Oh... Um, well...Dr. Peridot is a busy man. Shall we?"

"Please, Penny? Will you make me enforce the non-optional friendship favor?"

It was Penny's turn to pout. "Let me go get my purse."

They'd walked into the doctor's office at one and walked out just before eight that evening, leaving a flustered nurse and a frustrated psychologist who told them to come back the same time the next day for Sheldon's results. As Penny was shoving Sheldon none too gently out the door, she thought she heard the doctor mutter, "This is the last time I do a favor for Eric Gablehauser."

"I will bring up the directions to the hotel as we drive, Penny. CalTech, while forcing me to do this waste of time, did offer to pay for my lodging since its a nearly seven hour drive to Pasadena. What?"

Penny was staring. She shook her head and started the car, quiet as she guided them out of the parking structure. Sheldon gave precise directions that she could follow and they found themselves and a Hilton with a single king bed that, no matter how much fussing Sheldon did (foot stomps included), the hotel staff wouldn't change.

The two of them stood at the end of the large bed, staring at it. Then each other. Then the bed again.

"Well, I guess that's it. Penny, you'll just have to take the floor. I'm sure we can get a copious amount of blankets from the front desk at the very least. I can show you how to make a comfortable cocoon, not unlike my own."

It was Penny's turn to do some foot stomping.

"I will not sleep on the floor, Sheldon Cooper. Man up, you're sharing with me tonight."

The look on his face was worth the grumbling as they both settled in; him in a vampire pose and her curled on her side. He tried not to think of how her derriere rested against his hip and she tried to ignore the warmth radiating from behind her by putting Sheldon's "don't be stupid" face to it.

Early morning found Penny waking up to a sky barely tinged in pink yet. Slowly, she became away of her left leg resting on top both of his, her body half draped on his chest. More alert, she took stock. One of her hands had made its way up his shirt and was resting lightly on his stomach. His cocoon of blankets had been obliterated and barely covered either of them. As she lifted her head from above his heart (the immediate lack of his heartbeat was discerning, she found) she cracked her eyes open, weary for the good Doctor's reaction to her invasion of his personal space. She only found him still (oddly) fast asleep, breathing deeply, and a minute smile on his face.

To keep him from suddenly waking and harping like a banshee, she slowly removed herself from him and turned over, shivering at the lack of body heat, and pulled the blankets back up. Soon as she had settled and stopped shivering, Penny let out a small eep! as Sheldon rolled over, spooning as tight as he could to her. She tensed as one of his hands snaked its way on her hip, fingers resting on the sliver of skin between where her shirt ended and her shorts began.

"Oh my god," she whispered to herself, feeling Sheldon settle back into deep sleep. It took her a good forty minutes to fall back asleep herself, Sheldon's presence invading every cell of her.

When she awoke again, it was to the smell of coffee and to Sheldon's voice speaking to a third person quietly by the door before dismissing them. Peeking over the bed covers, which were tucked snugly around her, Penny watched Sheldon set two cups on the desk and turned to the bed.

"Penny," he said quietly from the foot of the bed. "Although it isn't eleven yet, I hope that this doesn't count to a punch in the throat. I went to Starbucks and got you that coffee you seem to enjoy so much. The girl who was the morning barista seemed competent, so I also got myself some tea."

Sitting up, Penny blinked up at him, watching him watch her. He seemed unaware of how he'd been pressed against her most of the night. And as almost always, she was thankful Sheldon couldn't keep secrets. "What time is it?"

Sheldon seemed to analyze her before answering. "Nearly ten. I've, of course, already had my French toast. I could call down for you or, after you've gotten ready for the day, we may go to lunch before we go for the results of the test."

"Sure, I'll shower now, then."

Penny avoided looking at Sheldon as she grabbed her stuff and the coffee he'd brought and headed into the bathroom.

She missed how his eyes followed her every move while keeping completely still.

"I'm sorry. If you'd like, we can schedule another appointment, but as things stand, I'm simply booked up for several weeks and I always suggest breaks between testing."

Penny glanced over at a silent Sheldon. His eye was twitching. "Doctor Peridot, I don't understand. How can something like this come out inconclusive?"

The doctor took a deep breath and sighed. "There are a number of variables. One could be that Mr. Cooper rides the fine line between the extremes."

"Doctor." Sheldon finally spoke, voice firm. Penny looked to him and saw that his eye was calm and his hands steady. "It's Doctor Cooper. And I would like to see what credentials allow you to practice if you can't give a simple battery of tests. If this were testing to see if I had cancer, would you still be telling us my results were inconclusive? Or if we were testing for a personality disorder?"

Peridot gaped at Sheldon a moment. "The tests for sanity, Doctor Cooper, are much different from cancer tests. I graduated from Michigan State, in the top ten of my class. I can assure you the inconclusive results of your test are no fault of my own. Rest assured, though, that I will let Eric Gablehauser know what transpired, that you attended, and that you are perfectly able to work in a social setting."

Sheldon stared at the man, lips pressed firmly together. It was small, but Penny saw the small twitch in his lips. "Sir, if you could please just provide me with some references. Perhaps some of your teachers, your adviser, classmates, et cetera. I would greatly appreciate physical proof that you speak the truth. Other than your patronizing words, which I have no need for. I should be the one patronizing you as I am the one with two doctorates and have a much more impressive body of work." He pulled out his phone and began looking for something. "I have a test I would like to administer to you, sir..."

"Sheldon! Let's go! Now!" Penny watched as the color rose in Peridot's face, quickly turning from rosy cheeked to a violent puce. "Is this ours to take?" She pointed to the file in her hands. When he growled a quick 'yes', she thanked him and shoved an indignant Sheldon out of the office.

"Why are we-"

"No. Shut up and let's get out of here, Sheldon." She stomped by him and led the way out of the medical building and to the car, leaving no room for arguing or questioning from the physicist next to her.

Twenty minutes out of Sacramento, Sheldon finally grew courageous enough to speak. "Why are you upset with me?"

Penny sighed. "I'm not upset with you, Sheldon. I was trying to get you out of there before the guy punched your lights out."

"Why on Earth would that man want to engage in a fist fight with me?"

"Uh, maybe because you were being rude? You pretty much told him you thought he was a liar and shouldn't be a doctor."

Sheldon blinked. "And?"

"That's rude!" Penny pulled a face before honking at a driver in front of her.

"I don't understand why asking to see that man's credentials is considered rude. I just wanted proof that he's qualified," Sheldon huffed.

Penny just rolled her eyes and continued driving. It was going to be a while before they got back to Pasadena.

"Hey, you're back!" Leonard greeted Sheldon and Penny as they walked into 4A at half past ten. Leonard was in his robe, sipping tea in the kitchen, obviously ready for bed. Sheldon ignored his roommate and Penny gave a hello barely coherent, mixed in with a groan of exhaustion.

"Sheldon, don't forget to give your boss that file so you can say we went up there," she said, watching as the man sat in his spot and huffed at the said file he'd thrown on the coffee table.

"Penny, I won't forget. I have-"

"Eidetic memory, yada yada. Call your mom tomorrow, too. Or I will." Sheldon pouted when she added that.

Shuffling over to his chair, Leonard grinned. "Soooo, what are the results?"

"Inconclusive." Sheldon crossed his arms and huffed.

Beside him, Leonard spat a bit of tea out in surprise. "Is that why you're pouting?"

"No," Penny said from the doorway. "He's pouting because he didn't pass it. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to sleep. Doctor Evil Genius kept me up all night."

More tea rained down on their carpet as their door slammed shut. Trying to mop up his mess, Leonard looked at Sheldon for an explanation. Instead, all he saw was the man pouting in his spot. Shaking his head, he stood and shuffled off to bed, muttering, "Yeah, his first victim will be that doctor up in NorCal before the rest of us."

Author's Note: Please review! I'll post something fun as an extra chapter!