Even though I haven't had the time to respond to the reviews, I LOVE THEM! THANK YOU and for the alerts, too!
About the worlds: I probably won't be adding an additional worlds, and I got some great ideas (Sheldon as a superhero, Sheldon or Penny gay, etc.) -and I even had a post-apocalyptic one with the two of them that is from an actual fic I was developing, but I have to wind the story down somehow…
And many of you asked about the reuniting of our couple…yes, Sheldon and Penny will be reunited but in what universe…? That is the big question. : )
A/N: Read through ONE time.
Sheldon looked out the window at the darkening sky. Sighing heavily, he looked at the machine and wanted to shake it. His nerves were fried and this Wife Penny had been cleaning areas that were already clean and commenting on each piece of memorabilia she'd come across. At one point, he was tempted to tell her to go to Penny's apartment to clean that space, despite the fact that he'd initially wanted her to stay close by should the (stupid) machine start working again.
"Come on, Sheldon. You need to eat. Just rest for a minute. You will be able to figure this out better when you rest and eat." Leonard tried to coax his friend for a five minute break, but it didn't seem to be working.
Sheldon sighed heavily and flopped down on the couch, his hands cradled his head as he rested both elbows on his knees. A smooth set of hands could be felt up his back and down again.
"This always helps my Shel when he's stressed. A nice backrub." Penny was calmly rubbing Sheldon's now even stiffer shoulders.
"Oh, that isn't necessary. Sheldon doesn't really like to be touched," Leonard started.
"What?" Penny halted in her actions for a moment. "What man doesn't like to be…OH. Oh." She stepped aside for a moment and looked down at Sheldon who looked up wearily at her. "You don't like women touching you…I get it. I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to-"
"No! No, that's not what I meant," Leonard backtracked.
"It's okay. I don't judge. I'm pro-gay all the way-"
"I just meant that-"
"STOP!" Sheldon stood and looked at both of them talking as though he weren't in the room. "I'm going to lay down." With that, he stormed off to his bedroom.
The baby was now asleep, and Penny found herself wondering what her alternate usually did. She had relaxed significantly since the shower (who wouldn't?). Sheldon had gone to Home Depot real quick, then he said he was working on "the car" until the guys came by.
She wandered around the open and spacious home and looked at various pictures around the house. Only a few were of the baby, since he was still very new, though there was one large one was on the wall that was photographed very creatively of the infant. The other pictures were of the couple, some with friends.
She couldn't take her eyes off the wedding picture in the Mikasa crystal frame. The couple looked at each other, Sheldon's head slightly tilted at her with a smile she could tell was really only known to his Penny. The woman had her hand resting delicately on his jaw line, looking at him through awe-inspired-in-love eyes, her mouth slightly open in a smile that looked like her breath was being taken away.
Penny wanted to remember this picture forever. It actually made her a little teary-eyed and she wondered if it was the hormones, or if she was really touched by the picture of this couple that looked exactly like her and Sheldon.
It was them-but different. She had a fleeting thought that she could never have that with her Sheldon, this kind of picture with this kind of emotion. But did she really want to? At that point, the lines between the worlds were getting muddled in her head and she really couldn't accurately answer that question. She had spent much of her time in the other world's missing her Sheldon and thinking of him that she wasn't sure if that was causing her to feel emotions she wouldn't have otherwise felt.
The sound of Jon Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer" came in from the garage. She followed it to find this Sheldon looking under the hood of an older looking car. His eyes scanned the parts earnestly as he sang along with the words.
"Lookin' good, isn't she?" he asked, barely glancing up at her.
"What? The car?"
He smirked at her and nodded. "Yea. Restoration close to done." He wiped his hands on a stained white towel and closed the lid. As he passed her to get to the house, he swatted her ass and leaned in. "And then I can take you for a ride and we can work on Baby Number Two in the back seat."
Penny huffed, blushing and turning around with a smile. "You're a perv."
He opened his mouth to respond but the doorbell rang. "Saved by the bell." He tossed the dirty towel on the side and walked in the door, Penny following suit.
"Hey, man!" She heard Sheldon say to whomever it was he was greeting. She stepped up behind him and the man looked around Sheldon and approached her, handing her a casserole dish with a "Hey, Pen" and kissing her on the cheek.
Penny froze. It was Howard.
But it wasn't. In this world, he handed her things casually and kissed her cheek. He had a mustache-goatee combo thing that really was actually working for him and a haircut appropriate for the decade. This was…not her Howard.
"Thanks…Howard…." Penny smiled uncomfortably, trying to relax in his presence and not make this Penny look like too much of a fool.
Howard gave her a weird look, then laughed, turning to Sheldon, who in turn just shrugged as he closed the door.
"My mom says she's really sorry it took so long to get this to you. She hates that she was in Florida when you were craving her vegetable lasagna."
"Oh, right. Florida," Penny said, trying to act like this was common knowledge to her. "So, you had the house to yourself for a while. That must have been nice."
"Uh, what?" Howard laughed again, this time a little uncomfortably. "Penny, are you kidding? You helped my pick my apartment out. I don't live with my mom anymore. I'm Jewish, but I'm not that Jewish."
Sheldon could be heard laughing from behind him. "Don't worry, Howie. She's been acting weird all day. She still has that pregnancy brain, I think. Come on, I'll get us some beers."
"Hey, the others will be here later," she heard 'Howie' say.
She sighed and walked the casserole to the kitchen where the guys were now leaving to plop on the couches and watch 'the game.'
"I got Leonard, Sheldon, and Howard. Wonder what happened to Raj," Penny murmured, opening the lid and taking in the really good smell of the lasagna.
"He's outside," called Sheldon.
"Raj is in the back, sweetie." Sheldon flipped to the pre-game and put his feet on the coffee table, sipping his beer.
Penny looked out the window of the door in the kitchen that led to the backyard. She didn't see anyone. Just as she opened the door to get a better look, wondering why the guys didn't seem concerned, she was knocked to the floor.
A small knock sounded at Sheldon's bedroom door and Penny opened it without being granted the "come on in."
"Um, Weird Sheldon, can I come in?" she asked, peering her head inside.
"I resent that. I'm not weird. I'm simply an alternate form of the man you know." He looked at her pointedly from his position on the bed. "You are the weird one in this realm."
"Actually, I still seem pretty normal," she stated, closing the door behind her.
"Where's Leonard?" Sheldon mumbled, wanting this other Penny out of his room. She was a lot like his Penny, but in many ways, nothing like her. Though, he did appreciate her cleanliness…his Penny could learn a lot from that.
"He said he was just going to work on his computer and, well, baby sit that thing. The machine thingy."
She sat down on his bed and Sheldon rolled his eyes, not looking at her.
"I failed." Sheldon sounded bitter.
"I failed. This machine is breaking down on me and I don't even have her back."
"Who else would I be referring to?" Sheldon huffed out and yanked his pillow further under his head.
"You don't have to be so snippy. This is all new to me." Penny crossed her arms angrily. She looked at the door. "I just want to go home. I miss my baby. He's only a few months old."
They both were quiet for a moment before Penny spoke again. "This room…it's…pretty cool."
"My husband bought a Superman onsie for Leo. Has a teeny tiny cape on the back." She smiled as she looked at him.
Sheldon raised his eyebrows, a slight smile gracing his lips. "That sounds nice. I have four Superman shirts. And three pairs of briefs."
"What are you confused about?"
"You wear Superman underwear?"
Sheldon propped himself up on his hands, turning to fully sit up next to her. "Not every day. I rotate between white ones and a few other super hero ones I own."
Her face dropped and her arms unfolded. "You're kidding."
"I rarely kid, and when I do, you will know it by my use of the word 'Bazinga.'"
It happened so fast.
Penny was on the floor, and she was swatting away something gross. She looked up and stopped the beast from his incessant licking and held his head steady, reading his collar.
It read: Raj.
She looked up into the eyes of the chocolate brown Labrador Retriever and chuckled. "What on earth did you do in your past life to be a dog in this one."
"Penny, are you ok?" came Sheldon's voice from the living room. The dog heard this and bounded towards the area. She pushed herself up to her feet.
"Yeah. I'm ok." She smoothed her shirt down. "The dog just attacked me."
She heard a baby-talk voice from the other room and looked over to find Sheldon scratching the dog behind the ears and leaning in, saying, "You jumped on mommy? You made mommy fall? You hound you. You be nice. Go say you're sorry." He sat back and pointed his finger. "Say sorry!"
The dog stopped panting for a moment as he trotted up to Penny and whimpered at her once before standing on its hind legs and 'begging.' She looked up at Sheldon who smiled at her and turned back to the TV.
"Aww. That's okay, Raj," Penny purred, rubbing his head and ears. This seemed to make the dog happy and he walked back to Sheldon, laying down at his feet.
Penny looked around, wondering why she was in this world so much longer than any other. She hoped she wasn't stuck, though if she had to be, this world didn't seem that bad. She certainly appreciated a normal Sheldon. A mild degree of anxiety washed over as she considered being stuck and decided she really hoped she wasn't. She wanted to go home…
She checked the monitor and found the baby still napping. This kid just eat, sleeps, and poops, she thought. She decided to just grab a drink and sit with the guys and wait this thing out (what else could she do?).
Sheldon put his arm around her as she sipped her Snapple. Looking at the TV, she saw the teams they were talking about who were playing today.
It was when she opened her mouth to speak that both men gave her stunned glances.
"B…Bazinga?" Penny turned fully to this new Sheldon and raised her eyebrows.
"Yes," he replied with confidence.
"You are something else," she said, though the smile on her lips really wasn't mocking at all.
"I get that a lot," Sheldon mumbled, looking away.
"So…what's up with this other Penny. You dating?"
"Facinating. The other Pennys inquired about our romantic status as well," Sheldon mused.
"How many other Pennys are there? How many were here?"
"Oh, a few. And no, we aren't." Sheldon was almost too casual in the way he spoke. He waved his hand dismissively. "I'm too busy to date."
"Oh?" Penny looked around the room. "She doesn't like comic books or something?"
"That isn't it."
"Is she actually a real bitch? I can see how that would-"
"No." Sheldon crossed his arms and shook his head, looking at his nightstand. "She isn't into men like me."
Sheldon huffed, insulted. He lowered his arms. "I meant superiorly intelligent." He pursed his lips. "She went out with Leonard for awhile, and while he is very smart, he somehow appeals to the more average intelligent demographic. And then she dated this sorry excuse for a man at the comic book store. And her previous love affairs consisted of such whirly men who probably barely passed high school."
Penny raised her eyebrows at how bitter he sounded.
"So, why not you? Why won't she date you? You don't seem that bad," Penny said with a shrug. "Unless you, like, abuse woman or touch little kids."
"Oh, please, woman." Sheldon stood up and walked away from the bed. He shook his head at her words. She was more impossible than his Penny, if that was even possible!
"She said 'no', huh? Sorry," the woman murmured from behind, her arms crossed again.
"No, she did not say 'no.'" Sheldon walked over to his comic books and flipped through them as he spoke. "I've never had an interest to ask her. I'm far too involved in my work and my goals. I enjoy her company in the capacity of friendship and nothing more."
Sheldon looked over and found this Penny with her back still turned to him and her head lowered. He swallowed, shifting his eyes away and randomly taking out a comic book to flip through.
"Since when do you know anything about football?" Sheldon asked, his voice taking a slightly higher pitch of surprise.
"Oh, um. You know, I picked it up from you guys." Penny fumbled with her words a bit, but reminded herself that in her world, she was an actress. She knew how to improvise. She could pull this off.
"That's some payin' attention, girl. You're usually gabbin' on the phone when we watch the game," Howie said, sitting back and taking a large swig of his beer.
Sheldon gave her a playful glare of scrutiny before turning to the TV. "Don't know who you are today, Pen, but I think I like this new you." He took a sip of his beer. "A wife who knows football is a-ok in my book."
Penny looked at his pillow and slid her body up to it. She was now laying on his bed, her back away from him.
"What are you doing?" Sheldon asked softly.
"Lying down. I'm really tired…and I just miss home."
Placing the comic book back, Sheldon approached the bed. "People don't usually lay in my bed," was all he could think to say. "They aren't usually allowed in my room."
Penny turned around. "That is the saddest thing I've ever heard."
"Not at all." Sheldon took a seat on the edge of his bed. "I find comfort in boundaries."
"I find comfort in boundaries."
"Maybe that's your problem."
"I have no problem, and for you to assume that just because I want-"
"You do. I can tell what kind of guy you are." She sat up and now looked him in the eye. "You're the really smart kind. Kind of socially awkward geeky type, who knows everything and every word of every fact, but you just aren't good with girls or anything out of your little circle."
"I am great with girls. In fact, one of my dearest friends is a woman!"
"Oh?" Penny crossed her arms. "And what is her name?"
Sheldon blinked at her and then waved his hand in her direction. "Penny!" he stated pointedly.
A couple other guys Penny didn't know showed up, neither of them did much more than say 'hello' (no cheek kiss like from Howie, who she could not tell was this Sheldon's best friend in this world).
The baby woke and Penny was proud of herself as she managed to change little Leo and nurse him all by herself. She was actually happy for the distraction, because she was still anxious about getting home.
Penny blinked at Sheldon, then reached out and touched his leg. He looked down but didn't move.
"I think you're sweet. You're like a cute man-child version of my husband." She smiled fondly at him, idly rubbing her hand over his leg.
She wanted so badly to lay down and wrap her arms around this Sheldon, but she felt odd about it. While his body appeared almost exactly the same as her husband's (a bit skinnier, but the same nonetheless), the touch wouldn't be the same. She was married…to the alternate form of the man before her.
"You should tell her how you feel."
Sheldon pushed her hand away and shifted on the bed. "There is nothing to tell. My feelings, both positive and negative, are clearly conveyed to her."
"Why do you make such grandiose assumptions of emotion? You may know your husband, but you do not know me." Sheldon stood up defiantly and walked to his bedroom door, his hand on the knob.
"I can see it in your desperation to get her home."
Sheldon slowly turned around. "That is because she is in my charge. I brought her along. Now she's stuck, possibly in danger. I would act no different if it were Leonard or Howard or Raj."
"Oh, maybe I was reading into it-wait, what? You have friends named Howard and Raj?"
"Yes. Howard is an engineer who lives with his mother and Raj is an astrophysicist who cannot speak to women without the aid of alcohol."
Just then, Penny started cracking up. She gasped for air, then said, "My husband's best friend is a guy named Howard, well Howie, and our dog is named Raj!" She went back into fits of laughter, and while Sheldon was extremely stressed and irritated with this situation, he couldn't help but smile.
A knock came to the door and Sheldon opened it.
"I think you need to come out. The machine is making some noise." Leonard looked anxiously between the two of them.
In the living room, Sheldon smiled as he saw activity in the machine again.
"This time we're getting her back," he said under his breath.
"Sheldon?" Penny was close to his body as she spoke while he was hunched over the machine. "When I leave, promise me one thing."
"What's that?" He glanced up at her with furrowed eyebrows.
"That you make it a point to be honest with yourself."
"I don't underdsta-" but the familiar high pitched hiss could be heard and Sheldon immediately took her by the shoulders and positioned her in the correct area for the machine to catch her.
"Promise?" she pressed.
Sheldon looked at Leonard who was anxiously ringing his hands, then back at Wife Penny. "I will do my best for whatever that means."
She smiled as she faded off.
Penny leaned against the wall of the bedroom, sighing and smiling at the sight of the unmade bed. The smell of the house, the warmth of the atmosphere…it was home.
Her husband strolled into the bedroom, a glass of water in his hand. He looked over at her as he walked past.
"Hey," she said, pushing herself away from the wall and glancing at the monitor at the sound asleep newborn.
"Hey, baby." He put his water down and looked at her.
She strolled up to him and wrapped her arms around his neck, giving him a long kiss on the mouth. "Mmm. I love you," she said against his lips.
He smoothed her hair down her back and scanned her face. "I love you, too. And I'm glad you're back."
"What?" Penny was stunned he just said that, as if he knew she was gone.
"You were acting weird all day. Almost took you to the hospital thinking you'd hit your head. But, um, you seem like you're back. You're okay."
"Yeah, I'm okay."
He gave her a small kiss again. "But I was happy to see that you actually watched the game with us today."
Penny laughed. The other Penny watched the game? She hoped that alternate universe Penny didn't just create a Sunday ritual with her husband, because there was no way in hell she was going to start doing that.
"Uh, I think that was a one time deal."
Her husband just shrugged, and started tugging at her t-shirt.
"Doesn't matter," he said against her lips.
Penny sighed at the familiar warmth of his touch…
I have one more Penny alternate adventure (can you guess which one?), then Sheldon has a decision to make…
A/N: "Pregnancy brain", as mentioned by Husband Sheldon, is a real thing. Women honestly lose a little of their wit (intelligence, alertness, etc.), I guess, for a while. (Their brain shrinks a teeny bit-same thing happens to patients undergoing chemo therapy) but it goes back to normal after the pregnancy. : )