A/N: Hello all! I hope you enjoy reading this as I am thoroughly enjoying writing it. Please leave a review, especially if you'd liek for me to continue this story, they absolutely make my day, not to mention speed up the writing process. Hopefully, this will be updated on a weekly basis, but no promises. I'm trying to finish a semester in grad school, so my schedule is rather hectic. I will try though! Anyway, please read and enjoy!
Also, please let me know if I get any facts or information regarding the show, the characters, or anything scientific wrong! I am open to constuctive criticism. Thanks!
Edited for your viewing pleasure.
Thank you to my wonderful beta, JacksAreWild!
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
"How was the flight out?"
Penny glanced over briefly to the young woman in the passenger seat with a small smirk, her perfect bow lips twisting up.
"You should know better than to ask that," came the disgruntled reply from behind a curtain of thick, long, russet ringlets.
"You should have known it was coming," the blonde retorted, her green eyes wandering lazily over the lanes of traffic.
"Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice."
"Ugh, seriously? You're pulling out the book quotes at this hour of the morning, Dr. McIntyre?"
There was no forthcoming reply, merely a smug smile and grey eyes that twinkled with suppressed mirth.
"Fine, be that way. Next time, you can just walk home."
"She was truest to them in the season of trial, as all the quietly loyal and good will always be."
"Alright, seriously, that's just unfair! I get the point."
"Do you? Shall I start on Shakespeare to make sure?"
"You're starting to sound a lot like my Whack-a-doodle neighbor."
"Merciful heavens, I'd better quit while I'm ahead, based on what you've told me."
"At least you understand sarcasm."
Their eyes met over the console before they both burst into laughter. God, Penny had missed this. It had been too long since they had last seen one another and knowing that she would be just one floor above her friend was both comforting and exciting. Penny wiped her eyes with one hand, as her companion tucked stray curls behind her ear. Penny signaled a right turn onto their exit.
"So, when do you start at the Pacific Oaks?"
"Monday, just when classes start. Hopefully my students won't be quite as challenging as they were in Minnesota. Winters won't be as cold, either, thankfully. I think I lost more papers than that time you dropped my flash drive in a bottle of vodka " was the reply in her soft, lilting drawl.
"That totally was not my fault. And I see you didn't lose your accent during your stint in the Great North," Penny said in a teasing tone.
"I can enunciate to my heart's content, but it seems the accent is permanent."
"That's not a bad thing, really. Lots of men dig a southern peach," Penny alleged playfully, poking her friend in the side without looking.
There was a soft grunt from the other side of the car, followed by a glare.
"I hardly could remind anyone of anything like a peach."
"Sure you could, Copper! You're sweet, have curves in all the right places, and hard as a frickin' rock at the center."
"Very funny," was the only thing Copper bothered to say.
"I mean it, Copper! Look, if you don't believe me, just watch the guys react to you when we get home. Oh, look, there's your furniture!"
Copper's gaze slid from Penny's lovely face to look out of the windshield to see the large truck she had hired to carry her belongings. She let out a breath of relief and let her lips curve up into a pleased smile. Her fingers loosened from around the book she held in her lap, smoothing her hands over the worn cover, a gesture that suggested an absent habit. Her hands immediately tightened again as Penny rushed to parallel park before a white Taurus could, swinging her hand out the window in a definitively rude gesture towards the incensed other driver. Letting out a deep sigh, she unbuckled her seatbelt as Penny shoved the gear into park.
"Nice to see some things never change," she muttered under her breath as she stepped out of the car.
"Huh?" Penny shot her a quizzical look.
"Nothing, nothing. Let's start getting my stuff into the apartment."
"Hold on, let me call Leonard and the guys will come help us."
"You are horribly manipulative, do you know that?"
"Yep, and I shamelessly use it to my advantage," Penny replied with a smirk, swiftly placing her cell phone to her ear.
A few honeyed words later and Copper was rolling her eyes as she grabbed several bags out the backseat, slinging the straps over her shoulders. Penny also grabbed some, chatting nonstop and Copper had to allow herself the grin that was steadily slipping over her lips. Lord, she had missed Penny. If she were to be totally honest, she just missed having companionship. The University had been a worthwhile, but lonesome, place of study. Her colleagues had all been much older and well established in their routines, none of which had room for a new peer with an unusual name and a tendency to speak her mind. So, she had quietly worked in her office and at home. At least she had managed to publish several papers before she had accepted the position at the College.
Turning the corner of the stairs and onto the landing of her apartment, she was behind Penny when the blonde stopped abruptly.
"Hey guys! Thanks for helping us out."
Copper peered over her friend's shoulder on her tiptoes, trying to see the infamous group of nerds that Penny never shut up about.
"Always ready and willing to render assistance to lovely damsels in distress." Something about that voice made her shudder in distaste.
That had to be Howard.
"So, where's your friend, Penny?"
Different voice, not as creepy, but a bit simpering as he addressed Penny. She hazarded a guess that was Leonard.
"Yes, Penny, where is your friend?" asked Copper with a sharp poke to Penny's back and a mild glower.
"Oops, sorry," she said over her shoulder and immediately hopped out of the taller woman's way.
"It's fine, Penny," Copper sighed, pulling the straps over her head and depositing the bags on the landing floor with a thump.
When she straightened, she found three pairs of male eyes traveling up her jean clad legs, over her Batman t-shirt, and finally up to her face. She suppressed the urge to roll her eyes for the tenth time that morning and gave them an easy smile, her hand pushing through the mane of hair that threatened to fall into her vision.
"Hi, I'm Copper," she said in a friendly tone, holding out a hand.
The one with a freakishly strange belt buckle sidled forward with a smile that made her want to laugh and immediately withdraw her hand. She resisted both urges, however, as his hand lingered on hers.
"Un nom insolite et charmant. Il vous complimente parfaitement, mon cher. Mon nom est Howard."
"Ouais, c'est ce que ma mère pensait quand elle m'a appelé."
"Oh, you speak French?"
"Perfectly," she replied in a tone that clearly indicated a warning.
Howard's smile faltered just the tiniest bit as he nodded and Copper heard Penny snicker behind her. The slightly taller guy with glasses also shook her hand.
"Hey, I'm Leonard and this is Raj."
"Hi, Raj," she leaned to meet his eyes with a smile and he quickly ducked his head with a wave.
"Uh, he has a hard time talking to women," Penny explained at the curious glance from her friend.
Copper nodded in understanding and loosely crossed her arms over her stomach.
"So, where's the Whack-a-doodle?"
Leonard shot Penny a look before pointing over his shoulder up the stairs.
"He's still in our apartment. It's nothing personal, Sheldon just doesn't care for changes in his schedule."
"Considering we're all down here, how's he going to play Klingon boggle by himself?" Penny asked with a frown.
"He'll find a way, trust us," Howard replied, glancing up at the ceiling with an irritated look.
Penny dumped her set of bags before grabbing Leonard by the arm and dragging him up the stairs behind her. Geez, was somebody whipped.
"He won't now, if that look is any indicator," Copper chuckled as she watched her friend disappear around the corner.
Shrugging, she turned to the door at her back, digging in her pocket a moment for her key before inserting it and giving it a firm turn. Grabbing two bags, she shoved them through the open doorway. She glanced back, noting the admiring focus on her rear before she scoffed and raised her eyebrow.
"Since you guys are here to help, you can start by bringing up the boxes out of the truck parked out front."
It was like snapping them with rubber bands. They exchanged glances before darting off down the stairs with Copper shaking her head behind them.
Between the three of them, they had fared fairly well in unloading close to half of the truck by the time Penny and Leonard came down to lend a hand. Copper tilted her head at Penny, who shrugged with a tiny smile.
Copper nodded, shifting the weight of the box at her hip and hiking up the stairs, grumbling under her breath at the out of order elevator. Her mind was so engrossed in not tripping on the stairs that she ran smack into something hard enough to send her stumbling backwards. A lanky arm shot out and caught her by the sleeve of her shirt, long fingers easily wrapping around the breadth of her arm to steady her. Letting out a breath, she looked up into vividly cobalt blue eyes that were currently glaring at her with annoyance. Almost as soon as the hand caught her, it released her.
"Whew, thanks. I apologize for running into you. I was too focused on trying not to trip."
"As well you should apologize, considering that your clumsiness nearly caused you a fracture of the cervical vertebrae, not to mention causing me a high probability of digestive distress later this afternoon from the impact."
Copper felt a tic start under her eye and her lips tightened considerably. There was the barest hint of a Southern twang in his speech, though the irritated pitch of his voice caused it to be more irksome than pleasant. She answered him mildly.
"Ah, Newton's Third Law. To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions. And based on the arrogant superiority with which it was delivered, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, I presume?"
Those baby blues flashed momentarily before his expression became coolly neutral.
"You presume correctly."
Lifting a slender shoulder, she gave him a quiet smile.
"I tend to do that. I'm Penny's friend, Dr. Copper McIntyre. I'd say that it is a pleasure to meet you, but I'd be breaking my general pattern of presuming correctly."
His gaze narrowed considerably, which made Copper think that perhaps continued exposure to Penny had given him a better notion of when someone was being either sarcastic, insulting, or in her case, both. He seemed to be on the verge of a scathing retort, but she quickly tilted her head at him inquisitively and gestured by lifting the box cradled in her arms.
"Do you mind? I need to set this down in my apartment."
The tic that she caught sight of in his jaw indicated that she had also been correct in her assessment that Dr. Cooper was not a fan of being interrupted, either during, or just before, he opened his mouth. She had difficultly fighting back the smirk that threatened to form, but she managed.
To say that Dr. Sheldon Cooper, two PhD's and a Master's, was rarely surprised would have been an understatement. He invariably calculated the day's possibilities before he had even finished brushing his teeth in the mornings. So, to find himself face to face with the new occupant of 3A and only being correct on the assumption that she would be aesthetically pleasing in the standard male sense was certainly surprising. To also find that she possessed a keen wit, a measurable degree of intelligence based on the 'Doctor' that preceded her unusual given name and her knowledge of physics, and a fairly demonstratable upper body strength had not been in his initial evaluation of their new neighbor.
He stepped to the side and she went to move past him, her shoulder brushing his slender chest. He plucked the box from her grasp before she could react and neatly sidestepped her turn on the narrow stairwell, no small feat. His Meemaw had raised him to be a gentleman, after all. He nodded to her cordially.
"After you, Doctor."
Her grey eyes widened a bit, but she returned the nod and turned on her heel, leading him to her open doorway. He could see Wolowitz shuffling large boxes around and did not hide his exasperation. Honestly, when would they learn that helping a woman move into her apartment did not increase their chances for coitus in the slightest? It was a question that was meant to be pondered another day, as Dr. McIntyre gestured for him to set the box down.
"If you would just place it over there please, Dr. Cooper." She spoke in a softly lilting voice, an accent that was moderately pronounced in the extension of her long vowels.
He was confident that he could at least pinpoint her area of origin as further east than his Texas upbringing and perhaps just a touch more south. Alabama or Georgia perhaps? Either way, he graciously agreed to her request, appreciating the presence of her manners and gently set down the cardboard container. He may reconsider giving her that initial strike if she was so willing to alter her manner of addressing him. Of course, she would need to apologize for the unnessecary and insulting sarcasm upon their first meeting. He would mention that to her at a later time. He straightened and turned to see her exchanging what appeared to be an amused glance with Wolowitz and he frowned, perplexed at what they had found to be entertaining. Her face instantly schooled itself, however, when she caught his eye and she gave him a bright smile.
"Thank you, Dr. Cooper. I appreciate your help. Now, if you would be kind enough to assist me once more in unpacking some of my belongings, I promise to not take up any more of your time than is neccessary."
Before he could respond to her delightfully well-mannered and respectful entreaty, he was interrupted by a series of loud bangs, followed by a high-pitched laugh that immediately grated his nerves.
"HA! And I'm manipulative? Give it up now, Copper. If you start stroking that larger than life ego of his, you'll never get anything from him without resorting to blackmail."
He watched Dr. McIntyre's attention shift from him to Penny with a crooked grin and a shrug.
"Considering what you've told me, Penny, I thought it best to get off on the right foot."
Sheldon furrowed his brow at the two women, knowing there was an underlying and silent conversation taking place between them, but unable to discern what it could possibly be.
Without another word to one another, Penny turned and pointed out where she wanted Leonard to put the box he was lugging up the stairs. Wolowitz joined them on their trip back down to the truck while Sheldon carefully opened the cardboard flaps and experienced his second surprise of the day. Neat stacks of DVD's filled his vision. He gently lifted several and was mildly pleased to see they were arranged in a chronological order based on the year the film was released.
"I didn't realize you were a fan of science fiction, Dr. McIntyre."
"You can call me Copper. I generally only make my students call me Dr. McIntyre. And yes, I am a rather avid sci-fi fan. Well, those that are put together well. I have no respect for some of the more obscure, shoddy examples of the genre."
"Then you may call me Sheldon. I can understand your lack of enthusiam on that topic, though judging by the contents of this container, I am beginning to discern that you have adequate tastes."
She made a sound behind him, but otherwise did not reply. He decided to interpret it as a 'thank you' and began to carefully set the assortment of movies in the shelves that lined the far wall. A comfortabe silence filled the space as they began unpacking her belongings. Penny and the others were constantly streaming in and out of the door, slowly filling the living room area. A thought struck Sheldon when his exceptional brain checked his work as he placed the last DVD on the bottom shelf.
He saw her turn her head out of his peripheral vision, but he was not really paying attention to her.
"Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish. It is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, a building material, and a constituent of various metal alloys."
"So I am aware, Sheldon."
He looked over at her to find her brows raised and a small smirk playing around her lips. He frowned.
She nodded and he felt his cheeks flush a little with indignation.
"I fail to see how anything I said warrants that response. I was merely pointing out the virtues of copper to you and-"
"And assumed that I was uninformed on the matter despite it being my namesake," she finished for him and he could feel the muscle in his cheek twitch.
When she didn't apologize for the interruption, instead returning her attention to hooking up her Xbox 360 to her television, his lip curled into a slight sneer.
"Information is not knowledge," he finally said in a snide voice, opening another box.
"According to Einstein, that's true," she replied mildly. "However, nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. It must be experienced. As a scientist, I would have thought you were aware of that."
Sheldon held up her framed doctorate degree with two hands, noting that she possessed a PhD in British Literature. He felt his irritation spike. Not only was his pleasure at her company swiftly waning with each passing second, but also his assessment of her intelligence had obviously been misplaced.
"And, naturally, you find quoting an Irish playwright comparable to the genius of one of the world's greatest minds, as well as giving you the authority to tell me what a scientist should be aware of. Hardly what a 'Doctor'," he placed a large amount of derisive emphasis on the word, "of Literature should concern herself with, much less presume she possesses any authority on the subject of science."
He allowed himself the smirk, feeling smug.
"You seem to have a working knowledge of his ideals, considering you seem to love to talk about that which you are an authority on."
He waited for her to explain, but when she remained silent, he could not resist turning around to inquire what she meant. Her crooked grin and flashing eyes made the question die in his throat as she slowly pronounced the words,
No, he decided. He would not be taking back that strike at all.
Copper immediately returned her gaze to her television as Penny and the others brought up the last of the boxes. She straightened from her crouching position, stretching her arms high above her head and sighing as she felt her vertebrae give a series of loud pops. When she turned around, she saw all eyes on her and she shrugged with a sheepish smile.
Penny shook her head and also moved to stretch, placing her hands on her lower back with a grimace.
"So, everyone up for some Thai?" she asked when she had finished, her bright green eyes sparkling.
A chorus of enthusiastic agreement met her question and Leonard looked at Copper with a shy expression.
"You're welcome to join us, Copper, if you like."
"Thank you, Leonard, that's very sweet. I accept."
Any kind of food sounded really, really awesome right about then, a clear pang of hunger skidding across her stomach. She hadn't eaten anything since the flight and she knew jetlag was going to catch up with her very soon. First though, she needed some nourishment. As the guys filed out of her door, she grabbed her keys as Penny waited for her to lock up.
"So, what do you think?"
"About what?" She was barely half-listening to her friend, wrestling with the difficult mechanism in the hope that it would unhand her key.
"The guys," Penny prompted.
"Oh, that. They seem sweet, if nerdy. I have no room to talk, I know," she added with a quiet laugh as the door finally released her key.
"That they are. What did you think of Sheldon?"
Copper grinned as they walked up the stairs together, mischief dancing in her grey eyes.
"Well, to quote Shakespeare, he draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument."