He's back and I've been so busy...


Chapter 30

Gracie cried for another 7 minutes, whimpered and fussed for another 2 and then there was…blessed silence.

"Okay, I guess you have a lot more experience with her than I do but Sheldon, it breaks my heart to hear her cry and sound so unhappy and miserable."

He bites hit tongue, both literally and figuratively but he can't stop the look on his face or the thought that bloomed in his mind.

'Where were you when she had colic? Her first bout of rhinovirus? The first time she vomited and I vomited right along with her? The damned staphylococcus infection in her ears?'

She doesn't read minds but Penny has always been incredibly adept at interpreting and expanding on what she sees in people's eyes and faces.

She leaned against her husband – husband, such a descriptive and empty term for him right now – and buried her face in his sweater, inhaling his scent, memorizing it, and then pulling him down in a frantic kiss, trying to make amends, to offer some comfort, anything to let him know that she can't imagine what he went through and that she's so sorry...

His brain goes on autopilot and before either of them can stop it, they're half-naked and locked in an embrace, lips fused, arms entwined. She's all over him and his lips and fingertips are everywhere on her body, relearning curves and hot spots, noting, in background, the weight she lost.

She was wet and when he slipped a finger between her folds her muscles clamped down on it and she whimpered – but it was in fear, not in passion.

"Shel, I – I can't. Look, let me get you off and then we can sleep or talk or anything you want. I just can't – "

"Have you discussed this fear of being touched down 'there' with your therapist?" In many ways he was still shy about using descriptive words about sex parts even though he did use them but not in a conversation like this.

"I – I'm afraid I might get pregnant and go crazy again. We've talked about it, around it, and yet nothing seems help. I – " She stopped and curled up on his chest as best she could and then whispered, "I don't even touch myself there, honey. My therapist says that I'm being foolish but the fear of losing myself like I did before…it's real, Shel, it's not in my head and I'm not crazy…I'm afraid."

Sheldon rolled over and found his discarded underwear and slipped it on and then a t-shirt. He sat back down on the edge of the bed without a clue what to do.

"Let's take a nap and then talk about it some more. You're tired and I could use a few minutes of quiet time. We should talk with your therapist about this."

"You don't understand. None of you do. I don't want another baby and the idea of it just scares the hell out of me. I lost everything that was important to me with Gracie. I lost my baby girl and the man I love - to destructive depression. I won't risk that again. We can always use our…"

"You told me to move on, to 'find someone else' in the letter you left me. I did. I took steps and I moved on."

"There's someone else?" Her voice rose and her face betrayed her thoughts. She should never have slammed the door on 'them' with that damned letter and now he was going to tell her goodbye.

"I don't cheat, Penny, and we're still married but I did take steps to order my life in light of your absence. I never intended to file for divorce until the mess with Gracie's ears came up but I wanted to be sure that … Penny, I had a vasectomy a month after you left. It was a stupid thing to do but I wanted to ensure that if I did 'move on' that the only baby I'd ever father was with the only woman I could ever love - you."

If someone had told her that a heart could be broken just by the look on someone's face she never would have believed it but here she was, feeling like someone was ripping her guts out through her chest. He looked totally bereft and lost and so damned sorry and all that was blanketed in the fear of losing her – again. And he'd done nothing wrong – not a damned thing.

She stared at him without saying a word until finally he got up, dressed, and quietly left the room. She didn't say anything to him nor did she try and follow him. If he left, so be it. Her mood change had slipped up and here she was, watching the very reason she hadn't taken a razor blade to her wrists, sitting passively, while he walked out on her.

Earlier, Penny's mother had had taken him asid and told him to call her therapist and introduce himself and explain his presence back in her patient's life. She needed to know what was going on in her life.

'Dr. Cooper, depression is like a shark swimming in a quiet sea of emotions, waiting for the right combination of mood and hormones and then, WHAM! It attacks and the subject is prone to mood swings, some violent, but I don't mean physically violent.'

'The change from one mood to another can be so quick and subtle that one minute your wife is a lamb and the next, a lioness. It can be dealt with but it takes time, patience and love.'

'Do you have the patience? Do you love you wife enough to wait, work with her, love her and always, always, forgive her?'

Sheldon quietly walked down the hallway and checked on Gracie, who was snoring softly. Sheldon picked up the discarded pacifier and softly closed the door to her room, sat down in Penny's grandmother's old rocking chair and propped his feet up on a nightstand and fell into a fitful doze.

He had the patience of Job but was still only a man.

A/N: Ending coming up. Just have personal things to do that I haven't done in a long time.