This is just a little one shot I wrote when I was supposed to be working today. It's canon compliant with Season 5. It's told from Penny's POV.
I'll be the first to admit it, but since the whole 'proposal' disaster, I kind of can't face Leonard. It's not that I don't care about him or that I don't want to be with him. It's just that we never seem to be in the same place at the same time, and I'm starting to wonder if we ever will be. Everything seemed like it would go back to normal after we all gathered in 4A and watched Howard launch into space (I still can't believe that actually happened). But it's not. It's awkward and awful, and the silence is full of unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises.
Let me be perfectly clear. I adore Leonard. I just don't know if I'm ready to spend the rest of my life with him. I've watched my sister suffer in silence for the past seventeen years, because she made a stupid mistake when she was fifteen and ended up with the dumbest person on the planet. Even my parents' marriage is strained because my mother couldn't accept the fact that she would have to grow up and learn to be a wife and mother.
So, it's no surprise that I have a tiny aversion to commitment.
Which is why I'm sitting alone on the same roof where Howard and Bernadette got married with a bottle of wine and a trashy magazine.. Ah well, at least it's warm and the raccoon that likes to hang out in the corner isn't going to ask me to marry it. So, I'll just sit here and stare up at the stars through the hazy glare of L.A. lights and ponder my next step. Briefly, I consider asking Amy for advice, since her relationship seems to be going in a decent direction. Granted, it's with Dr. Whack-A-Doodle, but at this point, who am I to judge? She's happier than I've ever seen her now that she and Moon-Pie are on a hand holding basis.
Good for them.
Now, what the hell do I do? I could pack my bags and take off for Omaha…but why? So I can sit in the kitchen of my parents' farm house and listen to them notspeak to each other? No thanks.
I could freak out, break up with Leonard (again) and find a new group of friends. Again, no thanks.
Which leaves option three. I can figure out what the hell I want out of this relationship and why it's not working again. We tried once, two years ago. It did not end well thanks to me. Now we're trying again and it's not going well…because of me. (Setting aside the fact that Leonard has the emotional subtlety of a bull in a china shop.) But, I know the answer already. This time, there's no going back. It's a yes or it's a no. There's no, let's hang on and see how things go. Leonard can say he's willing to wait until the cows come home, but both of us know he won't. So, do I spend my life with Leonard or do I let him go for good?
The thought of losing him physically makes my heart hurt, but I can't do this. Something is not right and I cannot make myself commit to him for some reason. The worst thing is, he's exactly what I need. He's too good to be true. He's Mr. Right. It's me who's wrong.
Pouring myself another glass of wine, I empty the bottle and lean back on my elbows and remember how clear the sky was in Omaha at night, and how the vast infinity of space made me feel like nothing but a speck of dust. According to the guys, that's pretty much what we are. Earth is a speck floating through the air. Like the Whos in Horton Hears a Who.
It's while I'm pondering my slightly boozy thoughts about outer space and Dr. Suess that the door to the roof opens, and the brick propping it open is moved aside so the intruder can come out. I'd know that tall, lanky form anywhere. There just aren't that many thirty-two year old guys who dress like they're still in pre-school.
"What up, Moon-Pie?" I say, startling him as he nearly drops the armful of technology he's carrying. As he's backing up, I notice his foot knock the brick propping the door open aside…and the door shuts.
See, here's the problem. The door to our roof locks immediately when it closes from the inside. The mechanism is broken and our landlord hasn't gotten his lazy ass over here to fix it. So, we prop it open with a brick. Except the brick is now lying uselessly beside the door, and the door is shut.
And I'm locked on the roof with Sheldon.
No, no, no, no, no!
"Penny! I was unaware that you were up here!" He squawks at me, setting his things aside and giving me an accusatory glance.
"Last I checked, the roof was free domain," I shoot back, glaring at him with an equally baleful expression. "What are you doing here?"
"Amy and I were enjoying a perfectly pleasant evening together. She, reading her latest issue of Neuron and I working on my article detailing the new research my department is doing on the Higgs Boson Particle with Stephen Hawking. It was perfectly quiet, and delightfully mundane," His eyes flash toward me in accusation again, "Until your boyfriend insisted on interrupting us and suggested a game of Jenga only afterhe was unable to reach you."
"Wait," I say, staring at him in disbelief, "Are you really blaming me because Leonard interrupted your…quiet, non-sexy fun time with Amy?" Without a blink, he nods, confirming my suspicion. He's a freaking loon.
"Of course it's your fault, Penny!" He insists, "Ever since Leonard proposed marriage to you in the throes of coitus—"
"Argh! Sheldon, come on!" I groan, covering my eyes.
"Well, that's what happened," He reminds me, raising an eyebrow at me sardonically, "And you're not fooling anyone, Penny. Anyone with an ounce of sense in their head can see that you're avoiding Leonard."
"I-I am not!" I cry indignantly, biting my lip and taking a long swig of my wine. It doesn't help with the sudden dryness in my mouth.
"Penny," Sheldon sighs, his voice laced with delightful condescension, "Need I remind you of your messy breakup at the bowling alley two years ago? It's no different now. And it's inconvenient for me, because your problems with Leonard are now impugning on my relationship with Amy!"
"Okay, I don't know what impugning means," I snap at him, "But don't blame me for your problems with Amy. You only have yourself to blame, Bucko!"
"Penny, at this very moment, Leonard is lamenting to Amy about his inability to connect with you," Sheldon tells me, "He is whining incessantly about his inability to please you over a game of Jenga with Amy, and she wasn't paying any attention to me."
"Yeah, I'm sure she was just loving sitting on the couch with you while you ignored her and did work!" I tell him acidly, "Why ever would she want to, I don't know, actually talk to someone?"
"Your guess is as good as mine," Sheldon retorts haughtily, making me growl in frustration.
"That was sarcasm, you big goof!" I rail, flying to the door and tugging desperately on it. I cannot be trapped on this roof with Sheldon. I
"Oh." His voice lowers, and I can hear him exhale, "It doesn't do any good for you to pull on the door. You know as well as I do that the door locks from the inside."
"It does megood," I mutter, turning back to him in defeat and trudging back to my half drunk glass of red wine. The thing is, he's kind of right, which really pisses me off, because he knows it. I shouldn't be sitting on this roof hiding from my own boyfriend. I should be trying to fix the issue we're having, so that we can both have some peace.
But Sheldon is not much better than I am. He's been dating Amy since November, and he doesn't do right by her. He acts like being her boyfriend is a chore, but she's great. She's cute and fun, and a great person. And he takes her for granted. And it burns me up.
But aren't I doing the same thing to Leonard?
"Look at us, hiding from our significant others while they enjoy themselves downstairs," I mutter, hating myself as I finish off the last of my wine. "This must be our punishment," I add, gesturing around the roof.
"I've done nothing wrong," Sheldon protests, opening his laptop and letting out a sound of distress. "Drat! I forgot the adapter and the battery is dying."
"Karma's a bitch, ain't it Moon-Pie?" I smirk, watching as he snaps his head toward me and gives me a look of death.
"Ain't is not a word, Penny!" He grumbles, crossing his arms moodily, "And don't call me Moon-Pie!" Rolling my eyes, I plod over to him and sink to sit beside him on the ledge. I take a deep breath, and focus on a the barely visible Big Dipper.
"You're right," I tell him, trying very hard not to grit my teeth. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him look down at me in surprise.
"I usually am," He agrees, making me eye him warningly. His mouth shuts immediately.
"I am avoiding Leonard," I confess, shaking my head tiredly, "I should have never done this beta test thing."
"I disagree," Sheldon says, surprising me, "The beta test is one of the smartest decisions you and Leonard have made as a couple. However, I cannot say I am surprised that the two of you still cannot connect."
"And why is that?" I ask, feeling uncharitable.
"Because, any fool can see that the two of you are not compatible with one another. That much has been clear since our first meeting. Leonard is so intent on impressing you, and you don't want to be impressed." I can only stare at him slack jawed. For an overgrown toddler, he kind of hit the nail on the head. "Once, when I was staying at my MeeMaw's with my siblings, my brother George caught a frog in the creek near her house," He tells me, and I find myself listening in wide eyed silence, having never heard anything like this before from Sheldon, "I, of course, found the creature repulsive, but George wanted to keep it, regardless of my warnings of disease and germs. The frog was slippery and was struggling, so George tried to hold it tighter, but it was no use. The frog managed to slip out of his hand and hop away." Sheldon's eyes meet mine, and, even though I'm confused, I'm kind of fascinated to hear about a time before Sheldon lived and breathed physics and superheroes.
"So, what does that have to do with me and Leonard?" I ask, swallowing as I watch Sheldon absently clasp and unclasp his hands. A nervous habit of his.
"It relates to your situation, because the harder George tried to hold onto that frog, the more difficult it was to keep it," Sheldon explains, "The more Leonard clings to having you, the more you want to escape. You're the frog, Penny."
Well, crap on a cracker. Dr. Whack-A-Doodle is right.
I don't say anything for a while, and we both kind of stare out into the night in charged silence. I want to yell at Sheldon. Tell him he's wrong. Tell him he's arrogant. Scream that he knows nothing about me. But that's not true. The sick thing is, I think Sheldon may understand me more than any of my friends…and that's kind of a terrifying thought.
"I can't do it anymore, Sheldon," I hear myself utter into the quiet; "I can't keep pretending that this thing with Leonard is going somewhere. We're in different places because we're different people." I turn to look up into his pale face, "I have to end it, don't I?" His brows furrow in bemusement as he stares down at me.
"You're asking me for relationship advice?" He asks in disbelief, making me chuckle dryly, "Despite the fact that you are questioning my own treatment of Amy?"
"What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment," I quip, eyeing my empty bottle of wine longingly. I can feel him shift uncomfortably beside me, but I can't bring myself to look over at him, because I'm kind of afraid his face will confirm what I suspect he's going to say.
"I have always seen that you and Leonard could never work," he begins, bringing his hand up to protect his throat and making me roll my eyes at him.
"Yes, you've made that quite clear," I respond, "I want to know what I need to do."
"I can't answer that question for you, Penny," Sheldon insists, "All I can tell you is what I see. And what I see, is that you and Leonard do not suit. But, in the end, my opinion isn't what matters, much as I'd like to refute that statement. In the end, it is up to you, and you alone."
"When did you become so wise?" I ask, managing half a laugh even though I'm feeling a little sick to my stomach.
"Penny," He begins. Here we go. "I have an I.Q. of one hundred eighty-seven and an eidetic memory. The research I am working on now is sure to send me into the direct path of a Nobel Prize."
"Yeah, yeah…you're smart. Big whoop," I sigh, but I smile anyway, even if I still feel like garbage. "You know, I had a MeeMaw too," I tell him softly, still not looking at him.
"I—what?" He asks, clearly confused. I don't know…I'm trying something here.
"Yeah, but I called her Gran," I go on, letting my eyes flit sideways to see him staring at me in confusion, "My brother is five years older than me and my sister is seven, so I kind of spent a lot of time alone as a kid. I used to spend my afternoons with her and we'd play card games and talk about everything from cow manure to the Spice Girls. She was my best friend." I swallow the sudden lump in my throat, remembering my gentle, talkative grandmother with her long silver hair and her smiling blue eyes. "She died when I was sixteen," I add, but I don't know why.
"I see," Sheldon answers, looking uncomfortable. "Penny?"
"What are the Spice Girls?" He inquires. Okay, I can't help it. I start to laugh. And not a little half hearted chuckle. For some reason, his cluelessness, combined with the sheer weirdness of this situation is making me giddy with a mix of despair and amusement. So, instead of bursting into hysterical tears, I laugh. And laugh. And Sheldon stares at me as if I've gone completely bat crap crazy. But, I don't stop.
I'm a mess.
"The Spice Girls were a British girl singing group from the nineties," I explain when I've recovered a few of my senses. "Amy loves them." I add, giving him a reproachful look. He should know these things. They've been dating for half a year. "You would know that if you cared to even—"
"I kissed Amy," Sheldon blurts out, looking at me in horror. He almost looks guilty. And I kind of feel like he just kicked me in the gut, because I'm so shocked.
"I've seen her kiss you," I tell him, swallowing my surprise. "It's not a big—"
"No, Penny," he shakes his head vehemently, "I kissed her. Last week after Howard left."
"Oh." I don't know what else to say. I mean, really? Why does the guy tell me this stuff? I don't want to hear about it. I mean, good for Amy! Ya know? But I don't know how to respond. Is he looking for a reaction? A nod? A smile? A pat on the back? I don't know what to say to him, so I say, "That's cool. How was it?" Sheldon seems to think on this for a few minutes, before he shrugs.
"Pleasant enough, I suppose. I cannot deny my relief when I didn't immediately fall ill," he adds, making me roll my eyes so hard that I'm afraid they might get stuck in the back of my head. "Penny, I know you told her about the hotdog spaghetti."
"Huh?" I ask, meeting his eyes.
"I know Amy asked you about how to impress me and you told her about the spaghetti," he tells me, toying with the hem of his shirt, "I know, because she asked me about Soft Kitty too."
"She did?" I utter, holding my breath. He nods, confirming this.
"She asked why there wasn't a section in the Relationship Agreement dictating that she sing Soft Kitty to me," he tells me. A wave of sudden nausea washes over me, although that could be due to the bottle of wine I just killed.
"What did you say…?" I whisper, feeling kind of like I'm on that spinning ride at the carnival. The Gravitron.
"I told her that it was an unnecessary consideration, as you sing Soft Kitty to me when I am sick," he insists, and (I'm not proud of this) a consuming swell of satisfaction fills my chest, even though I give him a scolding look.
"Sheldon!" I cry, smacking his arm, "Amy is your girlfriend. You cannot have another girl sing to you when you're sick."
"Why not?" He asks, affronted.
"Because!" I cry. Yeah, good one Penny! There's a good reason. "Because it's…inappropriate! Because it will probably hurt Amy's feelings. Is Amy a bad singer?"
"Not particularly," Sheldon answers, still confused, "But that doesn't hold much bearing anyway as you can't sing either—"
"Okay," I cut him off, trying to suppress the urge to wrap my Nebraskan Man Hands around his skinny neck, "But Sheldon, it's inappropriate, because Amy might think you have feelings for me."
"I do," Sheldon replies seriously, frowning at me.
"What?" I cry, leaping away from him and feeling my pulse go into an adrenaline fueled overdrive.
"Of course I have feelings for you," He continues, eyeing me warily, "You're my friend, Penny." Suddenly, I catch his meaning and feel my body sag in relief.
"Oh," I gasp, laughing a little, "Oh…"
"I don't understand the panic," Sheldon says, folding his arms and watching me.
"I was referring to…romantic, non-platonic feelings," I point out, watching his face go white with realization.
"Oh!" He leaps the opposite way, knocking into the wall of the building.
"You meant you have feelings as me as your friend," I go on, and notice his left eye twitch as he looks away.
"Sheldon?" I start toward him, ready to grab him by the front of the shirt. I don't know what that will accomplish, but the look on his face is scaring the hell out of me.
"There you are!" Leonard's voice comes from the door. I stop mid-step and turn to see Leonard and Amy standing in the doorway to the building. Amy quickly props the door open and rejoins Leonard. "What are you guys doing…?" Leonard asks, looking between us cautiously. I do not look back at Sheldon.
"I got stuck on the roof and when Sheldon came out, I scared him and he let the door close," I say quickly, lying only a little. "It's a good thing you guys came." Leonard visibly relaxes. "What were you guys up to?"
"Amy just beat me at Jenga and we decided to come find Sheldon," He tells me, glancing at Amy, who gives a curt nod, before looking at Sheldon.
"Are you over your toddler-esque temper tantrum?" She inquires shortly, obviously still a little irritated with her idiot boyfriend. Who could blame the woman? "Of course, I don't see how you could stay moody after extended amount of time with this absolutely unearthly being."
"Oh, Ames," I mutter, covering my face. Mine and Sheldon's conversation about the frog comes back to me as I meet Leonard's eyes. He's so hopeful. He wants so much from me, and I just don't think I can give him what he needs.
And it's breaking my heart.
"We're thinking about renting a movie and getting a pizza," Leonard says, looking at Sheldon. "What do you think?"
"It's Thursday and Pizza Night, so that is acceptable," he answers, sounding very much back to normal as he moves to retrieve his discarded laptop.
"Penny?" Leonard says, smiling at me. I stare at him for a moment, before I look at Amy, who is also smiling expectantly. Swallowing my devastation, I plaster on a smile and nod, taking Leonard's proffered hand.
"Sounds great, honey," I tell him, pulling him toward the open roof door. I look back and share one more strange, frighteningly meaningful look with Sheldon, before we return to our lives.
I'm a coward.
Thanks for reading!