I know there are a few fic already out there that place Penny and Sheldon together as kids. I've done one myself, already. Sort of. But then I had this whack-a-doodle idea about Penny and Sheldon hanging around a college campus together. After that, I just had to write this one.
He could feel someone's eyes on him. He was accustomed to that usually. At 10 years old he had already spent most of his life being stared at. However there was something different about this stare. He looked around carefully as his mom and Meemaw spoke to the Dean. In the space between the door and the frame he could see a small green eye. He walked over and peered around the door at the little girl.
Her hair was a riot of blond curls and put him in mind of the Shirley Temple movies his Meemaw loved. She was wearing a yellow sundress and white socks with Mary Jane shoes. He put her at about 5 years old.
"Is your mommy a student?" she asked.
Sheldon shook his head. "No. I am. Or rather, I will be this fall."
Her bright eyes got really wide and her mouth formed an "O". She shifted from one foot to the other. "You must be lots smart."
Sheldon nodded a bit proudly. "I have a very high IQ. That means measurable intelligence. Are your parents students?"
She shook her head, making her curls bounce around. "My daddy's the grass keeper."
"Grounds," Sheldon corrected. "He is the grounds keeper."
The little girl shook her head again. "Oh no. He don't keep grounds. He throws them away after the coffee is done."
Sheldon gave a breathy laugh and rolled his eyes. "No, I mean grounds as in the lawn. The grass and other stuff."
She nodded. "That's what I said. Grass. That's what my daddy does."
A group of students walked into the office and glanced at them. "That's the freak," one of the guys said. "I was in the library when Dean Anderson was talking to Professor Pembroke. He's like a human computer or something."
The girls in the group looked at Sheldon and giggled. His face turned red and he started to go back into the office. He stopped when the little girl flew into action. He watched in alarm as she ran over and kicked the guy who had spoken. The guy yelped and the noise drew his family and the Dean out.
"PENELOPE RENE QUEEN!"
The little girl froze, leg drawn back to kick the guy again. She slowly set her foot down and turned to face the man in the hallway. Sheldon assumed this was her father from the work clothes and the fact he had the same color eyes.
"What do you think you are doing, young lady?!"
Sheldon opened his mouth to explain, but his mom grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the office. Before the door closed, he saw her hang her head as her father made her apologize to the guy she kicked.
Sheldon looked out the window at the ducks on the lawn. He had been a student now for 4 weeks. Monday through Thursday he lived on campus under the care of Professor Pembroke. Then Friday afternoon Meemaw would come get him and they would drive three hours back to his home. Monday morning Mommy would bring him back and he would begin another week of classes. He was the youngest student at the college, and spent most of his free time here, in the library. He was about to return to his reading when he saw blonde curls go bouncing by the window.
He stood and looked out the window just as the little girl turned the corner. He hurried toward the door, forgetting all about the calculus book he had been studying. He stepped outside and rushed after her. He could see Penelope walking along the edge of the building, eyes fixed on the ground. He chased after her, catching up just as she reached the next corner.
"H-hello," he stammered.
She looked up and smiled, revealing a missing tooth. "Hi. Have you seen Mickey?"
Sheldon frowned. "Who is he?"
"She," Penelope said. "She's my pet."
"But Mickey is a boy's name," Sheldon said.
She shrugged. "So? It's also a mouse's name.'
Sheldon looked around the ground. "You're pet is a mouse?"
Penelope snorted. "No. She's a cameo…. a chameo …..a camo ." She huffed impatiently. "She's a lizard."
Sheldon wasn't fond of reptiles, but he began searching the area with her. They walked around the building slowly and when they reached the front the little girl sniffed ominously. He watched a fat tear slide down her cheek. He bit his bottom lip and fidgeted.
"I lost her," she mumbled. She looked up at Sheldon sorrowfully. "I lost her and she was my only friend!"
Sheldon fought the urge to run away. He was very uncomfortable with emotional people. Slowly he reached out and patted her shoulder. "There, there. Sheldon's here."
She burst into tears and dropped to the ground. She drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. "I want Mickey!" she cried.
Sheldon slowly bent and rested on his heels. "Penelope? Um, I will be your friend." He blushed and looked down at the ground. "If you want."
Penelope wiped her nose on her sleeve and looked at him hopefully. "You want to be my friend? Honest Abe?"
Sheldon nodded shyly. "I don't have any friends either. You and I can team up. Like Batman and Robin."
Penelope tilted her head. "Do I have to be Batman? I wanna be Robin. I don't like black."
Sheldon grinned, glad the tears were gone. "I'll be Batman."
She launched herself at him and wrapped her thin arms around his neck. "Yay! I got a friend!"
Sheldon was happy he had made her smile.
Penny (as she asked him to call her) was 8 years old and in the 3rd grade. After school the bus would drop her off at the college's main gate. Sheldon's class schedule was fairly simple. He had three classes every day except Friday. His last class of the day usually let out around 4pm. Then he would join Penny in the library. He used to spend his evenings reading or studying until Professor Pembrook fetched him. Now he spent it helping Penny with her math and history. When Mr. Wyatt, Penny's dad, finished his work around 6pm, he would come get them. Usually they would go the Penny's home, which was on campus and not far from Professor Pembroke's apartment. Most evenings he ate dinner with them and then they either played games or watched tv. Mr. Wyatt occasionally took them out for sno-cones.
Sheldon's favorite times where when it was just him and Penny. She was always interested in what he had to say, even though she rarely understood it. To her, he was a super hero. Sheldon was wise enough to understand what an ego was, and that he had one. But it wasn't just the boost to his ego that kept him hanging around Penny. She was just as likely to tease him as to compliment him. No, he liked Penny because she treated him differently than anyone else.
To her, he was simply Sheldon, her friend. She never made fun of him, or put him down. She never bullied or insulted him. She talked to him, listened to him and wanted him around. Just like Meemaw did. Meemaw was always kind and loving. His parents loved him, but didn't know how to relate to him. His brother and sister picked on him all the time. His professors treated him as either an annoyance or a threat. Mr. Wyatt was cool, though. He treated him the same as he treated Penny. Even when he was bemused, he still insisted Sheldon followed the rules and behaved. (Not that he would dream of disobeying.) And if Penny got a treat, then Mr. Wyatt made sure he did too.
Despite their differences, Penny was his friend. It was as simple as that. They did homework, chores, and played together. He helped her catch fireflies and she taught him to fish. They were two used-to-be-lonely kids who found comfort and acceptance with each other.
Sheldon looked down at Penny where she was curled up on the step, fast asleep, and sighed. The semester was almost over. It would be almost three months before he saw Penny again after next week. Would she forget him? Shadows fell over them and he looked up. Mr. Wyatt and Meemaw sat down on the porch steps beside him.
Mr. Wyatt smiled down at his daughter. "Son, I'd like to talk to you. Summer's coming and that means no school for Penny. It gets mighty lonely for her. I'm working, her friends are all on vacations, and she spends a lot of time alone. I suspect it's the same for you."
Sheldon nodded silently. He hoped he knew where this was going. He looked at Meemaw briefly and turned back to Penny's dad. "Yes, sir. I have a sister and brother, but they have their own friends."
Mr. Wyatt nodded. He knew the young boy had been very lonely before he and Penny became friends. "Well, I was hoping you would allow Penny to come see you next month. Your Meemaw has said she would be happy to let Penny stay with her, if you thought it was okay. And then in July, maybe you could come with me and Penny on our vacation. We're going camping in Colorado with my brother and his family."
Sheldon couldn't believe it. He immediately nodded. "Mr. Wyatt, I promise to take care of Penny really well. I won't let her get into any trouble, or get hurt, or anything. And I promise to be very good and follow all the rules and everything on the trip."
He looked over at Meemaw. "Please, Meemaw? Mommy will let me, won't she?"
Meemaw nodded with a soft smile. "Yes, Moon Pie. Wyatt and I have already discussed it with her. She said that you could go if you wanted to."
Sheldon looked back at Mr. Wyatt. "I would enjoy that very much, sir. Will you let Penny come visit? May I go with you?"
He smiled down at Sheldon. "I'd like that just fine, Sheldon. Now, go get your books. You and Meemaw have a long drive home."
They watched him rush inside and Meemaw turned to Wyatt. "Thank you for this. Moon Pie doesn't make friends easily and Penny means a great deal to him."
Wyatt smiled. "Penny adores him. The divorce was very hard on her. She misses her brother and sister a lot. Having Sheldon around makes her happy."
Meemaw reached down and tucked a curl behind Penny's ear. "They make each other happy."