Penny entered the apartment building and stood for a moment in contemplation of the task ahead. It had been a hard night at the Cheesecake factory. The boss had been on her back all night. "Those tables aren't going to clear themselves", "If the customer thinks he's funny, then he's funny", and "Don't pull that face." What face?
If he could only see her face now, she thought, smiling to herself. She took a deep breath and started up those three flights to freedom. Her legs felt like lead by the time she reached the final rise. And the last thing she wanted to see at the top, was Sheldon.
Oh god! that's all I need, she thought.
He spun immediately towards her and blurted out, "Leonard's at the Supersymmetry searches with Leptons Symposium!"
"Yes, I knew he was… doing that," she replied.
Leonard had told her he would be away that weekend, for some work related thingy-me. So why was Mr. Crazy telling her?
"Sheldon, I'm tired and I don't wanna chat. Goodnight." she said, reaching for the keys and making quickly for her apartment door.
"I, myself, have no interest in noncompulsory discourse." He replied sharply.
Penny turned, key in lock and said, as calmly as she could muster, "Then why are we still chatting?"
"I'm locked out."
Oh crap, she thought. How does this guy do it? Eidetic memory and he locks himself out of his apartment. He obviously doesn't use his brain for any of the important stuff.
"I suppose you want to come in?" she said. Her unwelcoming expression went unnoticed, as he glided in the door behind her.
"And why are you so late? I expected you back a half hour ago," he snapped. Penny didn't reply, she just rolled her eyes and dropped her bag down on the floor.
"I'm making tea and then I'm going to bed," she said, as she clicked the kettle switch.
"Very well," he said, standing awkwardly where he had stopped.
"Sit down Sheldon," she ordered.
He swung his bag over his head and held it up protectively. Then, after a cursory glance around the room he lightly made his way to the usual chair. She thought, how much he reminded her of her aunt's cat. That damn thing could never decide where to sit either. It fussed around for ages before it found the optimum position. She imagined him in his own cat bed and chuckled to herself.
Pouring the tea and adding honey for Sheldon, she hadn't bothered to ask and he better not complain, she brought over the cups and sat down.
"So why didn't you go to the symposium with Leonard?" she asked.
He gave her one of those looks she hated. The pause. The smug half-smile that meant, "You're so stupid, aren't you?" and said, "The discussion centers around the experimental search undertaken for the weak production of charginos and neutralinos, in final states with missing transverse energy"
"Yeah, I know how it feels," she said, bored.
He pursed his lips into a line, wondering to himself if this was sarcasm and deciding not to ask. "Thank you, for the tea" he said instead.
"No problem sweetie," she said
"And thank you for letting me utilize your bed again."
"Oh Sheldon… can't you sleep on the couch this time?" she groaned.
"You know I require adequate support to prevent lumbar stenosis, which I frequently…"
"Well, why didn't you go round to Amy's, when you knew you were locked out?" she quickly replied.
Sheldon felt silent. Oh dear.
"You haven't had a fight have you?" and then she added, "What did you do?"
"Nothing. Amy is conducting an another experiment," he said glumly.
"Oh, I know she's finished with the monkeys now. What animal is it this time?"
Penny struggled to contain a laugh. "Sheldon, you said you would try. You said that one day you and Amy would get closer to physical contact. What happened?"
"I did try."
She didn't want to push, so said, "It will take time, but you'll get there."
Sheldon just looked back with big eyes and said nothing.
"Well…" she stood up and went for the cupboard with the spare blankets "You know where the bed is."
He was off like a flash, past her and into the bedroom. Calling back "I have no pajamas"
"Nothing I can do about that," she said.
Penny switched off the lights. By the time she had finished arranging the blankets and pillows on the couch Sheldon was already in her bed falling asleep. He wasn't stirring and she imagined him lying on his back like a corpse. She slipped off her shoes and stripped down to her vest and underwear. There was no way she was going in that room to get sleepwear and risk waking him up, she would make the best of it.
She must have drifted off almost straight away. She could hear music, carnival music. She was in a circus ring, dressed as the ringmaster. Amy and Sheldon were trapeze artists and they were training cats to walk a tightrope. For some reason, she had to catch the cats who fell off the tightrope in a basket. The basket looked like her serving trays at the Cheesecake factory. She ran back and forward, catching the falling cats. Who then bounded safely out of the basket and away. But the cats kept falling and she keep running. Back and forwards. Faster and faster. Stretching out her basket-tray each time until with one last stretch, she felt a shot of pain and awoke...
"Argh" she groaned "this damn couch." Unable to move for a few seconds, she lay frozen. The centre of her back felt like a knife had been stuck in. She managed to slowly maneuver her feet off the couch and sit up. The pain began to subside but her back felt stiff and sore. There's no way I can sleep on the couch, she thought. Sheldon is going to have to get out of that bed.
Reluctantly, she gathered a blanket around her and hobbled towards the bedroom. He was as expected, on his back fast asleep like Dracula.
"Sheldon, wake up" she yelled.
He shot up into a sitting position with a yelp.
"Penny…! You scared me," he said rubbing one eye.
"You're going to have to sleep on the couch," she said.
He looked at her with an irritated expression. "Don't you remember? We had this conversation..." he glanced at the clock "…less than two hours ago. How can you possibly have forgotten already?" He said. Then he settled himself back down and pulled the blankets up.
"I didn't forget" she said angrily " I have senosis!"
"You have what?"
"The back thing"
"You mean lumbar stenosis"
"Whatever, I have it and you can't sleep in the bed"
"But Penny, I have work in the morning"
"So do I!"
He frowned and said "But my work is infinitely more…"
"Budge up, I'm getting in" said Penny as she grabbed the blankets and prepared to climb into the bed.
"You are not!" Sheldon yelled, trying to push them back down.
"Sheldon, stop being a baby"
"I don't have pajamas!" he screamed and she froze on the spot. The blankets in her right hand and he left knee on the mattress "What are you wearing?" she said not daring to look down.
"My flash t-shirt and underwear" he said in a small voice "So you see you can't just… argh!"
Penny jumped in the bed "Good enough" she said.
Sheldon moved as far across as he could, his hands drawn up to his chest like a squirrel. "I won't be able to sleep with you in the bed, you know."
"Too bad" she said and closed her eyes.
Now she was dreaming on lying on a lounger, floating in a pool. She had her favorite sunglasses on and the sky was the light blue of spring. She could feel a soft breeze and went to turn over but something was on her feet. Cats, damn cats again. What? Her eyes slowly opened as she came out of the dream. She felt a weight on her left side pining her down and she realized it must have been Sheldon. He was draped over her, his arm across her body and pressed against her so she couldn't move.
This is weird, she thought. This is really weird! Sheldon is sleep hugging me.
She laid there for a moment wondering if she could ease her arm out without waking him. His head was on her shoulder and she could feel his breathing, slow in the depths of sleep. It wasn't an entirely unpleasant experience. He was lean and comfortable against her. It felt intimate and… different.
A sudden pang of guilt swept over her and she slowly began to pull her right arm out from between them. He stirred, he pulled her close so she was crushed against him and then… he was aroused. She lay there in a state of complete shock, adrenaline pumping through her body. He stirred again and awoke. There was a second pause and he leapt out of the bed so quickly she barely felt him move "I'll sleep on the couch" he said, and he was gone.