I initially wrote this for the random-fandomdotnet Every Picture Tells a Story Super Challenge based on the prompt 36 picture. I love Amy but it was obvious who was in that photograph. The problem is it's a couple hundred words too short. I had my eye on some kick-ass wind chimes and would have loved to get an Amazon gift certificate but I think the length is perfect as it is. I will not whore myself for wind chimes. No matter how kick-ass they are.

The Break Down

Sheldon stared down at the slim pair legs stretched out before him. Penny lifted her left knee and the skirt of her printed silk dress slid further up her bare thigh. Sheldon moaned impatiently.

"Sheldon, you are not helping! Stop whining and hand me the 3/8" socket head!"

Penny stuck her hand out from beneath the car where she lay on the bare concrete of the parking lot. She had a blanket in the car for emergencies, but Sheldon had had a hissy fit at the idea of sitting on the dirty ground in order to pass her tools so she'd just let him have it. The tool set was still brand new and had sat in the bottom of the trunk since Dad had sent it as a birthday gift for his little Slugger. He had not been happy to find out she'd let Kurt keep her old set.

"Dad, guys don't like it when you can fix things better than they can."

"Well playing dumb didn't keep him from cheating on you, did it? Why the hell do you think I taught you this stuff if you can't help yourself when you need it?" he'd asked.

"Gee, Dad. I guess I just thought you liked spending time with me," she'd said, wishing she'd gotten a gift certificate for Amazon instead.

She hated it when he was right.

She'd agreed to pick Sheldon up at the train store on the way home from what was probably another failed audition. It was the quarterly train enthusiast/man-child meeting and Leonard had been effusive in his gratitude that he wouldn't have to stick around for three hours to take him back home. He and Priya had a date.

Bitch.

They hadn't gotten more than three blocks from the store when they heard a heavy clunk from beneath the car. The engine seemed to rev up even higher, but all the power was gone. She tried moving the stick back and forth between neutral and first but she already knew what had happened. The transmission had gone out.

Which has NOTHING to do with the check engine light!

Now Sheldon was doing his best impression of a semi-helpful five-year-old while she squirmed around under the car by herself.

"Penny, if you don't hurry up I'm going to miss the Doctor Who season finale!"

"Sheldon, there's a bus stop around the corner. Either shut up or get lost." She heard him mumble under his breath about bus pants but she pretended not to hear him. "Besides, I already know you stayed up past your bedtime last night to watch that crap."

"Doctor Who is not crap, Penny! And this will be the first time I can rewatch it knowing the true significance of the entire season."

She was almost done. Her car wasn't pretty by a long shot, but at least it was easy to fix. Thank, God it's not an automatic. I can barely make the rent payment this month, let alone pay for someone else to fix some mysterious black box crap.

As it stood, the most this was going to cost her was her stand-by 'conservative yet subtly sexy' dress. She only wore it for auditions calling for housewives, librarians, or insert-random-sexually-frustrated-female-here. Dresses that hung down to her knees were Amy's thing not hers.

She paused, looked down her nose toward the strip of daylight beyond the car, and bent to the side in an awkward attempt to push her skirt back down back down to PG-13.

"Penny…"

"Dammit, Sheldon! One more word…" She cranked down hard one last time and tugged on the clutch bar. It was done. "Take the damned wrench and get out of my way. We're done." He grabbed it from her.

"You sound just like my father." By the time she'd shimmied out Sheldon was already buckled up in the passenger seat. The silhouette of his train conductor's cap stood out against the sunset as he looked back over his shoulder at her. He opened his mouth to speak, but for once, thought better of it and turned back around to face front. Penny ground her teeth but swallowed the rant that was itching to come out. With Sheldon you had to reward good behavior as it came if you ever wanted to get anywhere with him. She threw the blanket over the seat and plopped down behind the wheel.

"And despite being a blonde you look just like my mother right now."

"No kidding," she growled. She started the car up and pulled out into traffic. "Why didn't you ask Amy to take you home, anyway?" Sheldon gave one of his breathy laughs and shook his head at her.

"Amy may be my girl/slash/friend, Penny, but she is not my chauffeur," he said with a condescending smile.

Penny shot him a glare. "And I am?"

"No, you're Penny." He turned away from her and Penny felt a stab of guilt. How did he do that? "I did text her after we pushed the car into the parking lot. She said was sure that with your Nebraskan man-hands we'd be back on the road in plenty of time." Penny gripped the steering wheel and kept her eyes on the road.

Twenty minutes later, they arrived home. Sheldon looked down at his watch. "It appears Amy was right after all." He jumped out of the car and walked briskly up the stairs, arms full of new choo-choo crap. He did not look back.

"You're welcome," she grumbled. She stomped up the stairs in her kitten heels and tried to put it out of her mind. He never meant anything by it. He was just… Sheldon.

She stepped into her apartment and used her whole body to push the door closed behind her. Then she remembered her ruined dress and winced. She would lay even money that whatever Priya was wearing tonight looked fantastic.

If she's still wearing anything at all.

Whatever. Right now all she wanted was a bath and a glass of wine.

I should just take the whole bottle in with me in case I need… a little more.

Suddenly she felt a familiar pattern reverberating through the back of her head as she leaned against the door.

Knock-knock-knock "Penny?"

Knock-knock-knock "Penny?"

Knock-knock-knock "Penny?"

She clenched her fists, spun around, and yanked the door open. He still hadn't taken off that stupid hat. "What now, Sheldon?" she barked at him. He held something out to her and she grabbed it without looking away from his face. When she registered the familiar texture she looked down and started. It was a hundred dollar bill.

"I regret to inform you those grease stains are not going to come out. Go buy yourself something pretty." She opened her mouth to speak but he held up his hand. "Preferably not something that will be used to entice yet another interchangeable male into coming back here for coitus and possibly interfering with my schedule."

She looked back up at him, struck speechless. She swallowed and cleared her throat. "Sheldon…"

He tilted his hand down at her six-gun style, winked, and clicked his tongue at her. "Thanks for the ride." And he was gone. A second later she heard theme music that sounded like a chorus of cats in heat carry through his door.

"This would all be so much easier if he was always a dick," she thought, and went back inside.

Alone.