A/N: Ah…the moment of confrontation between the formerly strait-laced Sheldon Cooper PhD and the girl from across the hall, the blonde he'd loved in vain for 5 years only to lose her repeatedly to his philandering over-sexed, myopic and parasitic best friend and hobbitish roommate, now accused of attempted sexual battery on said blonde.
Sparks or flames?
New Delhi Airport
Penny's flight was late due to weather. The afternoon flights were notorious for being late this time of year. Everyone knew it but Priya had slipped out of the pool house while Sheldon took a much-needed nap and drove to the airport. She was nervous. She felt like she was going to throw up any second.
She handed her car keys to the valet and watched as her beloved old Morris Minor flowed into traffic and out of her care. She'd had the car since graduating with honors from the Lyceum in Switzerland and somehow the young Indian man who took her keys hardly seemed to appreciate Kali's importance in her life.
She'd named the car after the Hindu goddess of Destruction and Rebirth since she drove as if destruction was her goal and each time she arrived alive, it seemed like a rebirth. She hadn't always been a lawyer or a prim and proper young woman. She'd had her wild-child moments and most of them had been while behind the wheel of her precious car.
Air India Flight 4400
London – Delhi
Penny fidgeted with her drink, tying the swizzle straw into knots and then untying them and doing it again and again.
"There's nothing to be nervous about, Miss," said the beautiful and exotic-looking Indian flight attendant who had hovered over her First Coach charges like someone who expected a tip. "All is as it should be and we will be landing shortly in Delhi. Is someone meeting you at the airport? If not, avoid the pedi-cabs at all costs. Those ruffians will steal you blind whilst you loiter on the kerb to pay them off. Thieves they are."
"Someone is meeting me, I hope. No, I'm sure she'll be there. She has as much vested in this trip as I do." Actually, that wasn't true. She had Sheldon while Penny had nothing at all anymore.
"Well, enjoy your stay in our capitol. There are many sights to see and things to do and a young woman should have no problems finding someone to show her around."
"No, that's the last thing I have on my mind. I'm meeting the wife of a man I lost to her because I was too quick to settle for something less. It's complicated but hopefully we'll be able to salvage something for the future. I pray we do. I'll be lost without…without their friendship. Like I said – complicated."
Penny cleared Customs and Passport Control and then headed for the Baggage Claim area. They'd agreed to meet there and Penny's stomach was in knots and she felt like she was about to audition for the role of her life, all butterflies and sweaty palms.
As she stood near the carousel, she watched a TV news show and saw the 'elephant episode' as the announcer called it. If was funny and the locals really got a kick out of the 'bloody Englishman' and his elephant.
"That's our man riding the elephant, Penny. And my drunken sot of a brother is hanging on behind him. He's nursing a hangover and is asleep at the pool house. Rajesh is draped over the settee on the verandah."
Penny whirled around and Priya embraced her and kissed her cheek and whispered, "Last night was wonderful and I hope you've come prepared to experience many changes in our lives. He agreed to a triad although he still refers to it as 'the hippie lifestyle'."
"Did you nag him into it or is it by his own free will?" That was important to Penny, almost as much as his decision was.
"Well, our man has decided that, as 'Homo Novus' and an advancement in human evolution, that he is 'entitled' to have more than one soul mate in this lifetime. If it is a rationalization, the so be it. I don't care so long as we are all happy. You are happy, aren't you, Penny? This is the outcome we both hoped for, right?"
"I think I'm just scared to death that he won't…I mean…he has you and I don't want to be the third wheel. I guess I'll have to see just how things work out for us."
"Okay. I can understand that. You should know that if my parents are inquisitive, that you and Rajesh are in a relationship. It is nothing more than protective coloration, Penny, and Rajesh is in full agreement and will work with us until we return to the US."
Penny thought that Priya's Morris Minor was 'cute' but clutched the 'chicken bar' when she started 'driving'. "Priya, I know it's the right side of the road over here but you don't seem to have much regard for traffic laws."
"I don't have to be the stuffed-shirt lawyer behind the wheel, Penny. This is the real me just as it was the real me when you and I…"
"Yeah, about that…have you told Sheldon about our sleeping together? If he thinks a 'triad' is a hippie lifestyle, then what – "
"Yes. He and I have no secrets. He was very understanding and supportive. The only thing he asked was that if it got 'serious' between you and I that he be informed in advance of any formal declaration so that he could make suitable arrangements to reside elsewhere."
"Prude. He wouldn't need another apartment if we just wanted a little alone time together, would he? Seems like 'overkill' but then that's my boy."
"He meant if we fell in love with one another and wished to end the triad and become an exclusive couple. He thinks ahead. Way further than you or I might."
"Yeah. A forward-thinker but he ignores the 'now' so often. Are you sure he's amenable to this?" She'd been working on her vocabulary and some phrases in the script required her to use Sheldon's online dictionary he'd downloaded on her laptop.
Priya smiled broadly and then laughed while making Penny gasp and clutch at the doorframe as Priya dodged two cyclo-cabs and a rather large lorry that had the nerve to occupy the space she wanted.
"Yes, although I believe the two of us should simply drag him to the bedroom, strip off his clothes and then ravish him. I doubt he will have any reservations. And then you and I can further enflame his lustfulness with some fooling around whilst he watches. Yes, a most delightful plan."
"You didn't drive like this in America, Priya. What's gotten into you?" She was hanging on as Priya made another abrupt lane change.
"I didn't have Kali with me in the US, Penny, just that leased monstrosity. Here behind the wheel of my Kali I have freedom, real freedom."
Penny leaned back and decided 'what the hell, what's the worst thing that can happen?'
Koothrappali Pool House
Sheldon woke up and was pleased to find that the headache he anticipated had failed to appear. He went to the bathroom and then showered and felt a sense of unease. Where was Priya?
He pulled on comfortable Indian drawstring trousers and a loose pull-over shirt and ambled out into the area they'd designated as the 'common room' and laughed when he saw his wingman sprawled out over the settee, glaring at him. It was obvious that he'd just awakened.
"Never again, Sheldon. Never again will I be your wingman on a drunken night of revelry. Do you remember anything at all? If you did you would not be wearing that silly grin."
"I remember being cursed by witches, folding someone's laundry – oh, my, and it wasn't even Saturday. And I do remember you – riding an elephant in a wedding procession? Did we crash a wedding? No wonder Priya is absent. She's probably dealing with all kinds of lawsuits after we ruined someone's wedding!"
Raj decided to end Sheldon's misery by telling him the truth.
"Come, Sheldon. I have something, actually two somethings to show you." He led Sheldon out into the courtyard and then out a wrought iron gate to the rear of the Koothrappali's sprawling home.
"We came home via elephant. You took Priya on a moonlight ride through the rains and did Kali only knows what to her because she came back wearing only a rain-soaked nightgown and that silly smile you always put on her face."
There were two elephants calmly stuffing their faces with delicious bits they found in Mrs. Koothrappali's prize-winning flower garden. The larger of the two spotted Sheldon and raised its trunk and softly trumpeted a greeting and then went back to munching.
"I am so fucked." Sheldon rarely swore and Raj figured he was seeing a little bit of Sheldon that rarely appeared. He'd never seen Sheldon looking so still and with a silly looking grin on his face like a kid at the circus.
"My mother has been seeking a reason to replant so do not be concerned. She is getting free fertilizer out of the deal also. It is a win-win situation, my brother-in-marriage." Raj was putting on his best imitation of an Indian gentleman dealing with a foreigner. His voice sing-songed stilted English and he kept referring to Sheldon as 'Sheldon sahib'.
It started to lightly rain but Sheldon took no notice. He was remembering the previous evening, in its entirety. All of it.
"Where is Priya-jaanam, Raj?" He stared at the two elephants and still wore his silly-assed grin.
"Right behind you, Shel-jaan, and I've brought a visitor so please do not do anything to further embarrass yourself." Priya was teasing him. She gestured to Penny who was staring at the elephants imagining Sheldon 'I hate germs' Cooper actually riding on such a beast without first sterilizing its hide.
Sheldon felt arms snake around him from behind and wrap themselves around his waist. He smiled when he heard, "I love you too, Moon Pie. We both do."
He sighed and said, "Penny" so softly that only she could hear it.