Warning :This story picks up after Sheldon and Amy's date with Penny as their driver. It completely branches off from the series at that point. Some of the characters are a little bit different because of what is going on.
This is a Shenny story. If you don't like that, quit reading. I don't respond to pm's blasting me about the pairing. Just be glad I treated Leonard nicely even thought I don't like him much any more.
I don't own these characters, The Big Bang Theory or really much of anything. So if CBS wants to sue me, all I can offer in recompense is the entire series of Buffy on DVD, the entire collected works of Stephen King and puppy that refuses to housebreak.
11:25 pm Wednesday
Queen, Penelope M.
Everyone else was inside. He had stopped at the door, needed to gather his thoughts. He stood staring at the name plate beside the hospital room. He still couldn't believe it. And as long as he didn't go into the room, it wasn't completely real. His brain rebelled against that thought. He's a scientist, for goodness sake. He knows it is her in there. Sheldon sighed. He just didn't believe it.
"For the love of god, Sheldon!" she exclaimed as she grabbed her purse. "I have a date. I am not playing Halo tonight!"
Sheldon narrowed his eyes at her. "But it's Wednesday, Penny. I reminded you yesterday at work."
Penny slipped her feet into her shoes. "Yes. You told me that today is Wednesday. You never said you expected me for Halo, or I would have told you then I have a date."
Sheldon snorted. "I should not have to tell you that your presence is required for Halo, Penny. You have joined us for Halo every week for the last 11 weeks. It is part of the routine."
Penny stopped and faced Sheldon. Her heart lurched. It always did that when he was around anymore. He was upset, and she almost called her date to cancel. She hated to make him upset. Annoy, and tease? Yeah, sure. She looked for reasons to do that. She didn't like upsetting him, though. Which is part of why she couldn't cancel this date.
If she wasn't careful, she was going to fall hard for the whack-a-doodle. She had first noticed it when Sheldon made his ill-fated decision to move to Bozeman, Montana. Her heart broke a little to see him go. She tried to brush it off but when he came back the day after, she was happier to see him than she was comfortable admitting.
That's why Leonard's "I love you" was so difficult to hear, and impossible to return. Wil Wheaton's words hadn't made her want to break it off. He had just confirmed what she felt. She had avoided the guys after that. Until she and Sheldon had met downstairs and started talking. She had regretted the dinner invitation almost immediately, because she knew it wasn't due to him liking spaghetti. It was because she just wanted to be near him.
It had been surprisingly easy to slip back into the habit of spending time with the guys. She and Leonard regained their friendship, but it was Sheldon that kept her coming back. Sheldon who she knew she could not have. So, she had accepted a date with Zack. That ended quickly. She kept comparing him to Sheldon. Then she went out with Todd. Same deal. So she stopped dating. Then came Amy Farrah Fowler.
It was the night she drove them on their date that she realized what she was doing. She was waiting on him to notice her. Now he had someone perfect for him and she would have to spend the rest of her life watching them. And worst of all? She wasn't too sure she wasn't willing to do it.
So, when Elliott had entered the picture, she went for it. He was tall, good looking and he had been completely charming when he asked her out. She said yes. Now she was disappointing the one man she was trying hard not to love, because she knew deep down he would never love her.
"Sheldon, I am not discussing this with you anymore. I have a date. Ask Amy to play. She's your girlfriend." She turned and walked out the door and waited for him to follow.
"Penny, Penny, Penny. She is not my …" Sheldon trailed off when Penny held up a hand.
"I don't care, Sheldon! I have to go."
Sheldon fumed as she walked down the stairs. This was not part of the plan! She was supposed to be his partner for Halo! That's how it was. They were a team. They had been a team for almost 3 months! How dare she desert him now!
He sighed at the disturbance. He and Koothrappali were teamed up. It didn't feel right. Dinner had been bland. Everything was all messed up. So having the phone ring just as they were beginning the game almost made sense. Leonard grabbed it with an apologetic look at Sheldon.
Sheldon tuned it out, still furious with his blonde neighbor. He and Penny were going to have to sit and discuss this. She needed to see the error of her ways. A loud thump as the phone hit the floor jerked his attention to Leonard, who was leaning over the back of the chair as if he was going to be sick. He looked at Howard and Raj who were standing there with wide and scared eyes.
"What is going on?" he asked slowly. Raj turned to him.
"Weren't you listening, dude? It's the police. Penny's been in an accident." Sheldon fainted.
They made it to the hospital too late to see her before they wheeled her into surgery. He listened to the officer tell them about the broken brake line on the taxi, the two cars it had slammed into, one of which was hers. He cringed when the officer said that "luckily" no one else had more than a few scrapes and bruises. Penny wasn't as "lucky". The steering wheel had broken two ribs. The windshield had spider webbed mostly, but slivers of glass from the driver's side window had cause a lot of cuts. Worst, was the door. Hers had been the one the taxi hit, before pushing her into the second car. The door had crumbled. They had to cut her out. Her left side was a mass of lacerations and bruises. There was internal bleeding, and a concussion.
Leonard called her parents, who would be flying out as soon as possible. Sheldon kept his eyes on the ER doors. That was where she was. His head swirled. She was alright, he told himself. She had to be. She was Penny. Bright, vivacious, messy, annoying, endearing, lovely Penny.
Sheldon had little use for people in general. He had 3 friends, his family and that was it. Until her. She had pushed her way into his life, making a space for herself. She had been a bane at first. But she quickly worked her way into his schedules and plans. Now, she was indispensable to him. He had even once cut loose Raj rather than lose her. So he waited. He kept his eyes on the door and waited for the surgeon to come out and tell them she was fine.
He opened the door slowly, his eyes on the floor. He glanced up and saw Leonard sitting in a chair beside the bed. Howard and Raj were on the other side of the bed. Bernadette was over by the window. Slowly he walked forward. He heard weeping but wasn't sure if it was Raj or Bernadette. He almost gasped. Her head was bandaged, her hair pulled up into a tight bun to keep it out of the way. The entire left side of her face was swollen and bruised. The monitor beeped steadily. He could see the IV tubes disappearing under the blanket.
"The doctor says she's drugged to keep her from waking up," Howard said softly. "She has a concussion, 4 cracked ribs, a broken wrist, deep tissue bruising in her left leg with a dislocated knee, damage to her kidneys isn't too bad, mostly bruising, and they had to take out her spleen. Almost everything else consists of minor bruising and shallow cuts, except..." Howard gulped. "they said that there was some swelling in the brain. It may be nothing, but they want to keep a close eye on her."
The door opened behind them and Dr. Stephanie Barnett walked in. She gave them all a small smile. "Guys, visiting hours are over, but I talked to the desk and one of you can stay with her tonight. I'm sorry, but the rest of you can come back in the morning."
Leonard stood and shuffled his feet at the sight of his ex. Sheldon took the opportunity to sit in the chair. "Hello," Leonard said in a strangled voice. "Thank you, Stephanie. It means a lot that you did that."
She smiled at Leonard wistfully. "I know she's your friend. So, which one of you is staying?"
The others stared at Sheldon in surprise. He hated hospitals unless he had an appointment. He didn't take his eyes off Penny. Bernadette walked over to the bed and looked at him carefully. Her eyes widened.
"Sheldon, are you sure?" Leonard turned back to the bed. "I can stay. I know how you feel about hospitals."
Sheldon waved away the offer. "Leonard, I will stay. She said I was her best friend. That means I should be here when she wakes up. It's non-optional."
Leonard started to argue, but Bernadette shook her head. "Okay, Sheldon. We'll be back in the morning." He nodded and they all moved out into the hall. She turned to her boyfriend as she closed the door behind them. "He needs to do this," she said. "Why didn't anyone tell me they were dating?"
They all goggled at her. "They aren't," Leonard stammered. "Sheldon is with Amy. Penny had a date with some new guy tonight."
Bernadette bit her lip. "Are you sure? Because he's pretty devastated."
"Bernie, honey," Howard said softly, "we're all devastated." She shook her head at them.
"No, We're all upset and scared. But Sheldon is devastated. He looks like his whole world is falling apart."
The guys looked at each other, and then through the window in the door. Sheldon was still sitting there, head bowed. His hand was gripping the blanket tightly and they could see his shoulders shaking. They slowly moved away, wondering how they had never noticed this before.
Leonard waited for the jealousy and anger. But all he could think was how panicked he had been that she might die. But it wasn't because he loved her. His first thought was, how do I tell Sheldon? Something eased inside him. He had always known they had a certain chemistry. And she was able to work around his roommate like no one else ever had. If Bernadette was right, could he really stand in the way of his two best friends?XXXXXX
The nurse had just been in to check her vitals when his phone rang. He looked at the screen and answered. "Now isn't a good time, Missy."
"Oh, Sheldon! Are you okay? I woke up from a nightmare and had to hear your voice," she said. He sighed softly. Missy believed twins shared a super natural connection. Pure hokum.
"I am well," he replied. "Goodnight."
"No! Wait!" she shouted. ""What's going on Shelly? Something is wrong. I can hear it in your voice!"
He closed his eyes and leaned back in the hard chair. "It's Penny," he whispered. "She's been in an accident. A taxi hit her." He considered hanging up, but he knew she would just call momma. He heard Missy gasp. She liked Penny, he knew. They had gotten along rather well when Missy had visited.
"How bad is it?" she asked worriedly.
Sheldon cringed. "They aren't sure yet. There's some… she has a concussion and some cranial swelling. Her spleen had to be removed. Several broken bones. The rest is superficial." He took a deep breath. "I fought with her tonight," he said softly.
Missy clucked her tongue. "Sheldon, you are not to blame! Don't you even think that!" He could hear her slamming something. "Look, I'll be there as soon as I can. I'm packing a bag now. I'll try to hurry."
Sheldon shook his head. "You don't need to…"
"Yes," she said gently. "I do. Now hush and try to get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning, come hell or high water!"
Sheldon hung up the phone and looked at Penny. She looked so pale. He knew he was at least partially to blame. He had upset her just before she left. An upset driver was not always quick to react. He tentatively touched her hand where it lay under the blanket.
"Please be okay. I'm sorry."
He woke to see a strange man standing by Penny's bed. The man was tall, wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. Sheldon had never met her father, but this guy had the same eyes she did, so he knew who this was.
"You the other neighbor? Leonard's friend?" Wyatt asked.
Sheldon rubbed his eyes. "I'm her neighbor, yes, but also her friend. My name is Doctor Sheldon Cooper."
Wyatt nodded. "Thank you for staying with her. That lady doc said they were keeping her asleep for now. Might be a few hours before they wake her up. You should get on home and rest."
Sheldon clutched the blanket tighter. He didn't want to leave.
The door behind him opened and an older version of Penny walked in carrying two cups of coffee. She glanced at Sheldon but went to her husband's side. She wordlessly handed him a cup. Sheldon stood and gestured to his chair.
"Ma'am, please take this chair." The woman looked at Penny and swallowed. She nodded her thanks and gingerly sat down. He turned to Wyatt. "I'll be back later this afternoon. I'll bring some things she will need when she does wake." He kept his voice low and respectful. He forced himself to turn and walk out of the room. His momma had raised him to be a gentleman. He knew that family came first, always.
He found Missy and Raj sleeping on a couple of chairs in the waiting room. He sat down beside her carefully. She yawned and opened her eyes. Quickly she sat up. She had arrived around 6am. They wouldn't let her visit, so she had decided to wait there. She looked at her twin with anxious eyes. He looked like hell. She was most surprised by the dried tear tracks on his cheeks. She couldn't remember the last time he had cried.
"Shelly? Is she…okay?" He leaned his head back and sighed.
"She is still unconscious. Her parents are with her now." He rubbed his neck. "I need to go home. She will want her pajamas and her slippers when she does wake up."
Missy stood and pulled him up with her. "Your friend Raj gave me his number when I was here before. So when I got to the airport, I called and asked him to drive me over. He said that he'd stick around and drive us home if we needed." Sheldon's eyes widened. That was unexpected. Missy began walking to the elevators, while Sheldon woke up Raj. Slowly they trudged along. He was exhausted, but there were still things he had to do.
It was after 3 when they came back. Missy had insisted he get a couple hours sleep. Then he had let himself into Penny's place and gathered her sleepwear, slippers, and toiletries. Missy had been absolutely certain Penny would want her brush, make up and lotion.
They walked down the corridor with Howard and Bernadette who had picked them up. As they got nearer, they slowed. Penny's dad and Leonard were standing beside her room trying to comfort her mom. Sheldon felt his heart stutter.
Leonard looked up and he saw hope and fear in his friend's face. Leonard walked over slowly.
"She's awake," he said in a low voice. Sheldon pushed past him and rushed to her room. Leonard held out a hand to stop the others. He looked over his shoulder at the door Sheldon slipped through. He turned back to his friends. "There's a problem."