This is my first foray into Fan Fiction writing. I am an avid reader, though, and you guys all inspire me! I get so many great ideas, and I just decided, I need to get them all typed out. So...here we go!
The dark-skinned man across from him looked up from his lunch tray. "Yes, Sheldon?"
Their friends had not yet arrived to eat lunch. "Raj, I would like to speak to you about something very personal. However, should Howard and Leonard arrive before we can finish our conversation, perhaps we could meet somewhere more private?"
"Sure, Sheldon," Raj responded. "Is it something serious?"
"Well, that depends," Sheldon replied in his pensive manner that only he could perfect. "Do you mean fatal illness serious or Heath Ledger-as-the-Joker-in-The Dark Knight serious?"
Raj began to get exasperated. "Never mind, why don't you just tell me what's going on?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Sheldon saw Howard meandering through the lunch line. "Oh, well, here comes Howard," he nodded. "Perhaps you could visit my office toward the end of the day if you get your work done early? You can tell the fellas you are giving me a ride home. That will give us some time to speak."
Raj sighed. "That's fine, Sheldon. I'll be there."
Sheldon considered Raj to be one of his closest friends. While Leonard was still his "Best Friend," it seemed to be in name only. Since he started working with Raj, he saw the shy Indian in a whole new light.
When looking back upon their friendship, he remembered that Raj and he agreed far more often than they disagreed. Raj was much more patient with him and all his eccentricities than the other two men. He was certainly less sarcastic and mean than the others could be. Yes, some people are your friends and some people are kindred spirits. Dr. Koothrappali was a little bit of both.
A knock came at the door. Sheldon looked up at the clock and saw it was 4:35. "Come in," he called.
Raj peeked his head inside. He was holding his jacket and laptop bag. "You done for the day?"
Sheldon said nothing, but clicked his mouse and typed in the computer. Raj heard the sound signaling that Sheldon's computer was shutting down. "I am now," Sheldon smiled. "Have a seat, please."
As Raj sat down across the desk, Sheldon got up and walked around the desk to join Raj in the other chair. While it certainly did not matter who sat where, for Sheldon it was symbolic. "I've not asked you here as a boss or a colleague. I wish to speak to you as a friend."
"Now, we all know of your affinity for Sex and the City, musicals, and cheesy romance novels…" Sheldon began.
"I wouldn't say it is an affinity so much as an escape from reality, but…"
"Raj, Raj, Raj, it is your effeminate nature that makes you the perfect candidate to help me with my situation."
Raj seemed slightly offended and stood to leave. "Well, Sheldon, if you need a woman's opinion, you have a sister, a mother, and Meemaw. You also have three female acquaintances. Might I also suggest you peruse the Oprah forums for advice?"
"No wait," Sheldon said with urgency. "The truth is, I consider you one of my closest friends. I find that my respect for you has only grown over the years. I understand you more than I have ever been able to relate to my roommate. I came to you because, well, I trust you."
Raj turned around and returned to his seat. He couldn't help but be touched by Sheldon's sincerity.
"You see," the brainy physicist started. "I find myself wanting to pursue a relationship with a young lady."
"Penny," Raj stated knowingly.
Sheldon neither confirmed nor denied. "I would like to have a traditional relationship. No contracts, no plans, just a normal courtship. I've been thinking about it for a while, but this girl…"
"This girl is so different from me. Different from Amy. And, I am far different from her previous suitors, I'm sure. While I may be able to convince her," Sheldon lowered his voice and mumbled, "or trick her" His eyes looked up meekly at Raj. "to join me on a date, I only have one shot with this woman. One shot to prove to her that we would be a good pair."
"Well Sheldon…" Raj began to reply.
Sheldon held up his hands to shush him. "The thing is, I have known her for quite some time now. I don't know when these feelings started bubbling up or where my compulsion has come from. It was like, one day, they were just there, from out of nowhere. I fear what may happen if I give it a try and it fails. I care very deeply about this woman."
"Penny," Raj said in a tone different from the first two times. This tone was laced with earnestness and reassurance.
Sheldon could hardly speak. He had to diffuse the weight of the conversation. "Actually, Raj, I am speaking of Leslie Winkle."
Raj's jaw dropped and he could do nothing but stare at his lanky comrade with utter astonishment.
"Bazinga!" Sheldon let out with a giddy grin. Raj let out a sigh he didn't realize he was holding. The air turned serious once more. Sheldon knew he couldn't bring himself to say it out loud. His eyes shifted around until they locked on the brown eyes across from him. Sheldon nodded so slightly if Raj hadn't been so focused, he would have missed it. Their gazes steadily held each other for several more seconds. A silent understanding was forged in that moment.
After a prolonged silence, Raj spoke. "Did I ever tell you about my first date? It was with this girl, Marya Nakul…" Raj continued on for several more minutes talking about first crushes, first dates, and previous girlfriends. Sheldon had never heard Raj speak so much about women before. It must have been cathartic to get it all out in the open. But, Sheldon knew deep down, that his friend was just trying to calm him down and make him feel comfortable with the conversation. Raj truly got him. Whereas other people may have forced their hand, trying to get Sheldon to open up to them and then given up when he clammed up, Rajesh knew exactly how to ease his mind.
The two men noticed that the lights in the hallway went dark. People were starting to go home. It was 5:25 by the time they decided to pack up and head for the door.
Walking through the parking lot, Sheldon surprised Raj by blurting out, "I had a girlfriend back in Texas, you know."
"No, I didn't."
"Well, it was when I was 16 or so. We only saw each other during the summer or holidays or when I was on break from school. It was all very innocent. Trips to the arcade, soda fountain, church…" Sheldon smiled out of the corner of his mouth.
"Oh I bet Mary Cooper just loved that. And you guys didn't end up hitched how?"
Sheldon's Texas drawl slipped out. "Mary Cooper did try to get us hitched. But, Hannah- Hannah was her name- was going off to college herself. She wanted the 'true college experience.'" Sheldon made air quotes. "We continued to keep in touch somewhat, and my mother always believed that at the end of it all, we'd end up together. But, you know how it is, when people go off to college."
"She met someone else?"
"She started swinging for the other team? That happened to Marya."
"No. She died," Sheldon said simply.
"She fell into the college scene. Parties and what not. After one night of partying a little too hard, she passed out. Alcohol poisoning. They tried to get someone there to get her stomach pumped, but it was too late."
"That's terrible. I bet that killed you."
"It didn't. I didn't feel anything at all. I was not upset or hurt or sad. I didn't cry. I knew right at that moment that if I could not force myself to have feelings for this girl who just died, that I would never have romantic feelings for anyone. I accepted it. Moved on."
They reached Raj's car. He unlocked it, and they both settled into their seats, strapping on their seat belts diligently.
"I've never felt a romantic connection to anyone. Not even Amy. I didn't care. My love has always been science; you know that."
Raj nodded. "Sooooo…why are we here?"
"Ah, quite the philosopher, Dr. Koothrappali. Well it depends from what religious or ethnic context you are analyzing the question. My mother's answer to that would be to serve others."
"No, Sheldon. Not why are we all here. Why are we, you and me, here? If you are incapable of a romantic connection, why did you need my advice?"
"Well as it turns out, my mother's God was looking over me." It was times like these that Raj wondered about Sheldon's faith. While he had always proclaimed himself agnostic, and always dismissed his mother's Christianity as a farce, there were some moments that made Raj wonder. This was one of them. "It wasn't that I was incapable of a romantic connection. It was that He wanted me prepared so that when I met the One at the proper moment, I would know."
"She's the One."
"But how can you know? You've never dated or kissed her or anything."
"I just know," Sheldon replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Trust me. I wish there was some sort of formula that could help me calculate this feeling. But….I just know. Well, that is to say, I know she is my One. I don't know what I am to her. But, if I am ever to be in a relationship, this is the girl with whom it will be. And, if she is not interested, well, no shame in being a bachelor."
"Oh, come on, Sheldon, don't say that," Raj attempted to reason. "There are plenty of…"
Sheldon interrupted. "She's it."
Once again, Raj let out a long breath. "So?"
"Because of your knowledge of chick flicks, I felt that you could help me plan the perfect date. Nothing too sappy, of course. But, I want it to be enough of an effort that she takes me seriously. One shot, remember?"
"Right, well, yeah, I can help."
"Can you help to actually get her on the date with me?" Sheldon asked sheepishly.
"No," Raj's accent was thick. "I think that's something you have to figure out yourself."
"I've asked her out before. She said no."
Raj nearly swerved into oncoming traffic out of shock. "You did what?!"
"She said no; she thought I was trying to make Amy jealous. Which…I kind of was. It wasn't that I wanted to go out on dates with Amy. I was possessive. I just didn't want Amy going out with anyone else. A small part of me thought in the back of my head that if me and the girl went out, even as a ruse, that maybe she would fall for me."
"And Penny said no?"
"The woman in question," Sheldon emphasized, "said no. She saw right through me. She also went to great lengths to assure me that she did not have feelings for me."
"Then why are you going to try again?"
"Because, she and I are right for one another, regardless of what she said. I think she will realize in time that I am exactly what she needs in her life. And, I care for her so deeply, that she even rivals Meemaw. I have to give it one more shot."
Raj slowed down and pulled into a parking spot next to the apartment complex. "I can't just come out and say, 'Will you go on a date with me?' She won't take me seriously."
"Hmmmm," Raj pondered. "I actually have an idea. But, before I help you, you must do one thing."
"Sure. What is it?"
"Excuse me?" Sheldon seemed confused.
"You have to say it."
"Please? Thank you? Open sesame?" Sheldon was still perplexed.
"No, Sheldon. Her name."
Sheldon stiffened and stared straight ahead. "You know who. Why do I have to say it?"
Raj reached over and put a comforting hand on Sheldon's shoulder. "Listen, buddy, I know it's scary. Saying it out loud…it makes it real. That scares you. And that's okay. But, you need to be brave for her."
Sheldon looked up. "Okay, well let's get started planning the perfect romantic evening ….for Penny."
Raj smiled. "Let's."