"Have you guys heard from Sheldon?" Leonard asked, placing his tray carefully on the table before sitting down.
"No. Why?" Howard queried.
"We haven't seen him for nearly a week. I'm starting to get worried."
"Hasn't he emailed you?" Raj asked, and Leonard shook his head.
"Maybe he went back home to Texas?" Howard muttered.
"Why would he go back to Texas?" Raj pressed, and Leonard shook his head again.
"I've got no idea. He hasn't had a falling out with any of us..." Leonard sighed, running his hand through his hair. He picked up his fork, and pushed his meal around the plate.
"Have you phoned him?" Howard inquired.
"Yeah," Leonard replied. "But, he hasn't picked up. I don't know what's wrong?"
"He'll be back. Don't worry. He's probably gone home, and will be back when he misses his work."
Leonard picked up his full tray and stood up. He headed to the bins and cleared his tray. He put everything away and headed out of the canteen.
Slowly working his way through the labyrinth of corridors, he found Sheldon's office. He reached out and opened the door. The door swung open and revealed an empty room. He slowly walked inside and sat in Sheldon's chair. He sighed loudly.
He slowly swiveled around, stopping after looking at the whiteboard. It was blank but, he could see a vague outline of something previously scribbled on it. He stood up and examined the board more closely.
Reaching down he picked up a marker, and slowly traced the outlines on the board. When he was sure he was done, he stepped back and took in the sight. It had Penny's name plastered over it, and equations surrounding it. Down the bottom of the board, a single word was etched in large lettering. Omaha.
Sheldon's eyes snapped open. Sunlight was streaming into his room. He sat up, and looked around him. His room from Texas surrounded him. He pulled the covers off himself and swung his legs off the side of the bed. He pushed off the bed, and into a standing position. He padded out of the room, and down the stairs into the kitchen. He saw his mom, sat at the weathered table.
"Good mornin' Shelly, did you sleep okay?" Mary greeted him. Sheldon nodded and sat down at the table. "Where's Penny?"
"I have no idea, mom. She's probably still asleep." Sheldon replied flatly. He reached out and grabbed the glass and jug of juice in front of him, and poured himself a glass. He brought it to his lips, and poured the fluid into his mouth. He gulped it down and carefully put the vessel back on the table. Mary handed him a plate of toast. Sheldon looked up at her thankfully. He grabbed a knife, and scrapped some butter off the stick in the center of the table.
He expertly scraped the butter back and forth over the toast. When he was finished, he grabbed the preserve. He opened the jar, and was about to scrape some out when he stopped.
He put the jar back and, wordlessly, moved his plate over. Standing up, he headed to the bread bin and withdrew two, fresh, pieces of bread. At that moment, Penny appeared. She shuffled into the kitchen. Sheldon pointed to the spot where he had left the toast. Smiling meekly at him, Penny sat down and picked up a piece of toast. Mary stared at Sheldon.
"Shelly?" Mary asked. Sheldon looked over at her. Mary looked pointedly at Penny and then at him. Sheldon glanced at Penny, and then at his mother.
"The bread hadn't been toasted to the right consistency. I heard Penny coming down the stairs, and assumed that she would be interested in toast. I merely buttered it, and handed it over."
"But, Sheldon I have never seen you give food away," Mary insisted. Penny looked up, confused.
"Mom, I merely calculated that the toast was to the liking of Penny. She has a tendency to put crumbs inside the butter. I cannot stand that, mother."
Mary stood, dumbfounded. The telephone rang, pulling her out of her reverie. Sheldon had busied himself with making fresh toast, and Penny had started to eat again. The telephone stopped ringing, as Mary reached it.
About to walk away, the set rang again. Picking up the receiver, Mary glanced at the clock.
"Good Mornin', Cooper residence," Mary formally greeted the pseudo-intruder.
"Hello, Mrs. Cooper. It's Leonard."
"Leonard? Why, hello dear. How are you?"
Penny and Sheldon looked in the general direction of the hallway, when Mary had said Leonard's name. A look of fear was etched over her face, and Sheldon's was emotionless. She glanced at him, and could tell he was worried.
"Sheldon? Why would Sheldon be here, Leonard?"
They sat tensely, waiting for the conversation to unfold.
"He's not here dear. But, you tell him to telephone me when he gets home, right!" Her voice was stern, and it was followed by another long pause.
"All righ' then," Mary drawled softly. "Goodby' Leonard."
They both heard the click of the receiver being put back, and Mary's footsteps getting louder.
"We know who it was, mother," Sheldon informed her as she walked into the kitchen.
"Shelly! I told you not to listen in on my conversations. It's rude!" Her voice was filled with faux-stern words, which didn't convey as much as they should've to either Sheldon or Penny.
"Mom, I only heard your side of the conversation. It was a little difficult to ignore, especially after you mentioned Leonard."
"Shelly, I realized that you and Penny here, need some time before you go back to Pasadena. I simply bought you more time."
"Thank you, Mom."
"You're welcome, Sheldon." Mary smiled down at her son, and placed a feather light kiss on his forehead. He instinctively pulled away, and returned to his toast.
Mary left the kitchen and headed up the stairs. Halfway up, she stopped, and slowly sat down on the step, so she could hear Penny and Sheldon's imminent conversation.
"What do we say, Sheldon?" Penny whispered, worry etched into every syllable.
"What do you mean Penny?" Sheldon replied, nonchalantly.
"What do you mean, what do you mean?" Penny said incredulously. "What are we going to tell people back home?"
"Is it any of their business? You are single, I ended my relationship with Amy. Mutually free from relationships, we decided to embark on one together."
"Penny, I envision a scenario, in which a couple of people maybe indignant at our budding relationship, however, they have no basis on which their argument stands."
"Leonard's going to feel betrayed. And, what about Amy?"
"Amy realizes that I was unhappy in the relationship I had with her. She may not be happy at the fact, but she understands it. As for Leonard, I can tell that he will, as you say, feel betrayed, but you broke up with him."
"Penny," Sheldon voice was comforting to her, as he sat beside her. "Don't friends support their friends' decisions?"
"Sheldon, it is a lot different, when it's our situation. I doubt Leonard and Amy will want to be friends with us, when we get back."
"Then we don't go back. I can telecommute, and you can find a job, wherever we decide to settle."
"Is that the Sheldon Cooper version of us running away together?" Penny grinned at him slyly, and he shuffled in his seat.
"It could be interpreted that way, yes." Penny's grin grew wider.
"Do we run away Sheldon, or do we go home?"
"Sheldon's not in Texas, with his mom. I checked his office, and there are a load of equations on his board, and the word "Omaha." He's gone after Penny." Leonard panted heavily, leaning on the door for support. Howard and Raj were sat at a desk chatting, when he had burst in.
"Leonard, there is no way Sheldon would run off to Omaha, for Penny. He's in a relationship with Amy remember?" Raj reminded him. Leonard nodded and sat down next to them.
"Why would he write down all of those equations and the word "Omaha" and not do anything about it. He's disappeared as well."
"Sheldon will be back. He's probably got lost or something."
"He's got GPS on his phone."
"Leonard, there's no need to worry. Penny and Sheldon will be back."
"Sheldon where are you going?" Penny called.
"I'll be right back. I'm going to visit Mee-Maw," Sheldon replied, as he closed the door.
Sheldon briskly walked down the street, a light breeze cooling him, in the hot sun. He walked, without stopping, until he reached a large house. It was secluded, within the confines of a suburban street.
Opening the white, wooden, gate, he walked up the neatly kept path among the flower beds, and walked up the steps onto the veranda. He rapped his knuckles on the door smartly, and waited.
The door opened to reveal Ida.
"Shelly?" Her voice was filled with surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"I need advice."
"Sheldon, you rarely come to your Mee-Maw for advice."
"I don't know what to do."
"Come in, Shelly."
Ida stood aside, and let Sheldon inside. Pictures of him and his siblings, along with his parents, and other relatives adorned the walls and picture frames, atop cabinets and tables.
He slowly made his way to the kitchen, and Ida opened the cupboard. Opening a tupperware bowl, she placed three cookies onto a plate and opened the fridge. She poured him a glass of milk, and placed them in front of him.
Sheldon gave her a look of thanks, as she sat down.
"What's the problem Moonpie?"
"I don't know what to do about myself and Penny."
"What do you mean?" Ida asked.
"Penny asked me if we should "run away" or go home. I voted for going home, yet, I feel a sense of impending doom. I don't want to hurt my friends, Leonard and Amy, yet I want to be with Penny.
Being with Penny makes me happy, like a new, fresh comic book being added to my collection; but my friends will feel betrayed if they find out about us."
"Are they your friends if they don't support you, and your choice to be with Penny, or her choice to be with you?"
"Answer the question, Sheldon." He was taken aback by her firmness. Her normally smiling face had hardened. He fidgeted in his seat.
"Well," he started, but was interrupted by her hand on his arm. He stared at it.
"It's a "yes" or "no" answer."
"No," he whispered, barely wanting to admit it.
"Go back to Pasadena, Sheldon. I have never seen you so happy. You don't always show it, but Penny makes your eyes sparkle, in a way that I've never seen before. Even when you were doing your science-y stuff, I could tell something was missing. Not now. Even George and Missy are missing their twinkle.
Sheldon you are precious to me. Now every grandparent and parent will say that they don't have favorites; so this doesn't get mentioned to anyone!" Sheldon nodded, meekly.
"George and Missy have always been able to stand on their own two feet. While you are all independent in your own way, you have been the one, who has needed a little hand now and again. You're a genius, and a physicist, and whatever you wanted to do, you've done it. First your mother, and then myself, we tried helping you, but you always seemed to be standing still.
As George and Missy have been so independent, you became my favorite. I want to see all my grandchildren succeed, in whatever they do, but you more than anyone. Penny doesn't give you a hand up. She helps you along. I know you think that this nonsense, but, there is only one person for everyone. Your grandfather was the only person for me. Penny is the only person for you. I heard about your "relationship" with Amy. I could tell you were appeasing her and your friends.
I spent time with Penny. She is a kind, gentle soul, who despite herself, loves you. She knows that you can be crabby, and antagonistic and annoy her. She still loves you. She thought she loved Leonard, but she didn't. She merely realized that she was trying to replace you, with him. I didn't work. All of the times that they were together, it didn't work.
Sheldon. They will accept you and Penny, if they are your friends. If they don't, then they aren't your friends."
Sheldon open his mouth to speak, but Ida cut him off.
"And, if they don't accept you two being together, then I know that all you need is each other."
Ida smiled at him, and patted him on the arm. Sheldon nodded,and finished the last cookie. Swallowing the last vestiges of milk, he put the clear plate and glass in the dishwasher.
"Sheldon, running away with Penny, will only hurt you both in the long run."
"We have to go home, and tell them," Sheldon said. Penny was sat at the end of the bed, looking up at him.
"What about Leonard and Amy?"
"They will understand," he replied.
"If they don't?" Penny pressed.
"Then they aren't our friends. I've been told that friends support their friends' decisions." Sheldon stated it, emphatically. She nodded and stood up. She pulled him into a hug, and he slowly snaked his arms around her.
"Let's go home!"