I have begun this on at the start of season 3. Sheldon was devastated by the way his friends betrayed not only him, but his life's work. The Arctic research he had been so eager to pursue, with his friends firmly by his side, had ended in catastrophe. With his reputation destroyed and his friends uncaring, he made a major change. He left California. Now, two years later, he's about to be drawn back into the life of a friend he left behind…

He sipped through the side door and headed up the stairs. He didn't bother acknowledging anyone he passed in the hallway. He had no real friends here in Helsinki. He had no friends, period. Friends were untrustworthy. Friends betrayed you. Only one person other than his beloved, deceased Meemaw had ever been absolutely, unwaveringly true to him, and he had cut ties with her long before she had a chance to hurt him. He unlocked the door to his little efficiency apartment and hung up his jacket.

He sat at his little kitchen table and opened his email. He was expecting a reply from a colleague about his latest research results. Instead he found four missives from his sister, three from his mom and eight junk emails. He deleted the lot without reading any of them. He was just reaching for a bottle of water when his home phone rang. He reached out and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?" he barked out.

"Sheldon Cooper?" He didn't recognize the voice, but maybe that was due to the stress evident in the person's tone.

"Yes. Who is this?"

"My name is Bernadette Rostenkowski. I'm a friend of Penny Queen's. Please don't hang up!"

Sheldon closed his eyes and sighed deeply. It had been almost 2 years since he had seen Penny. Almost a year since he had received the last email from her. "Ms. Rostenkowski, why have you called me?"

"There's been an accident," she sobbed. "Please! Penny needs you!"

The phone dropped from his suddenly nerveless fingers. Penny? Accident? Sheldon's mind was having trouble putting those two words together. He could vaguely hear a squeaking voice coming from the dangling receiver. After a couple of seconds he picked it back up.

"Ms. Rostenkowski," he said loudly, trying to speak over her almost hysterical ranting, "please listen to me. I need a number so I can contact you. I must make some arrangements, and then I will call you back."

She rattled off a cell number and he repeated it back to her. "Okay, now listen to me very carefully. Do not tell anyone I am returning. I do not want to have to deal with former ...friends."

"Okay," she said with a hiccup. "Thank you."

Sheldon hung up and dragged a hand down his face. How could he go back to Pasadena? But Penny was hurt. He should have asked the young woman exactly what had happened. He had been so stunned, though, that he hadn't even asked for details. He picked back up the phone and called the one person he could think of who might be able to help him.


Sheldon stepped through the gate into the airport and looked around the large crowd. He looked halfway around the lobby before he spotted her. She was looking stern, and not very welcoming. He didn't really care. All he cared about was that she was there. He walked over, adjusting his travel bag's shoulder strap. "Hello, Missy."

She crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm not here for you, Shelly. I'm here for Penny."

He nodded calmly. "As long as you are here. Let's go."

Missy frowned slightly. "Where's the rest of your luggage?"

He indicated his carry on. "This is it. Now, I have an 11 o'clock appointment with Mr. Lawrence. I do not want to be late."

Missy followed him out of the airport. "Your lawyer? I thought we were going to the hospital."

Sheldon nodded. "We will. But there is a very important paper I need to collect first. Mr. Lawrence is expecting me."

Missy watched her brother carefully as they walked to her car. He carried himself differently than she had ever seen him before. He was not hunched over. His steps were long and swift. She was having to practically sprint to keep up. What had he been through in the last two years that had changed him so much?


The lawyer was not only expecting them, but actively waiting on them. The moment they walked in, he approached with an envelope in his hands. "Dr. Cooper, I have the paperwork you require. I also took the liberty of arranging for a hotel room at the Westin Pasadena Hotel. The other papers you wanted me to look into will take another day to complete."

Sheldon nodded as if he had expected all of this. "I'll return tomorrow at noon, then."

Without another word Sheldon turned and walked away. Missy caught the flash of relief that crossed the lawyer's face before hurrying to follow her brother. He directed her to drive to the hotel so he could check in and change before going to the hospital. Missy bit her lip several times, trying to decide how to broach a conversation with her own brother. She was surprised when Sheldon began talking.

"I realize you are angry with me. I cut myself off from everyone when I left. I don't expect you to understand, but it was necessary. I never stopped caring about you or Mom. But I needed to start over. I was devastated, Missy. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. The man I trusted more than any other had stabbed me in the back. My first real friends, and they had betrayed me. I could have withstood that, but they had also betrayed science. They betrayed everything I stood for. And when their betrayal was exposed, they expected me to just get over it. They saw nothing wrong with what they had done. They even blamed me for their actions, saying that I drove them to it." Sheldon's voice had been devoid of any emotion at all as he spoke. But now, his voice cracked and he took a shuddering breath.

"And worst of all? They took the one actual friend, the one really true friend I had away from me. Leonard bound Penny to him and I knew that she would chose her love for Leonard over her friendship with me."

Missy had an epiphany at that moment. For two years she had assumed that Sheldon had run away. She thought he had ran and hid halfway around the world out of cowardice. How wrong she had been. He hadn't been hiding. He had been healing. He had been rebuilding his confidence and self esteem. And in the midst of all that, he had cut himself off from the one person who really mattered to him. Penny.

She pulled into the parking space near the hotel and turned to her brother. "Shelly, you didn't have to do it all alone. Don't you know that you could count on me and Mom? On Penny? We care about you. We would have done anything to help you."

Sheldon looked at Missy calmly. "I needed to do it by myself, Missy. I needed to start over and the only way for me to do so, was to do it alone. If I had stayed, I would have regressed. I was barely a man as it was. I had grown up physically, but emotionally I was barely more than a child." Missy started to shake her head but Sheldon held up a hand, palm out. "You and I both know I'm right. I had routines and schedules in place to keep my life in stasis. Because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I grew, if I changed, I would lose the few friends I had."

Sheldon placed a hand on the door handle. "The last two years has been hard. I didn't just step out of my comfort zone. I completely abandoned it. And as a result, I am a different man now. Today is not going to be easy, Missy. What I plan on doing is going to cause a lot of anger, resentment and possibly result in an even greater rift between me and my former friends. I want you to know that what I do, I do for Penny's benefit. Whatever has happened these last two years, I still care about her welfare. I will do whatever I can to make sure she recovers fully."

Missy studied him carefully. The confidence and determination she saw reassured her. She nodded sharply. "Okay. I'll do whatever I can to help."

Sheldon nodded and opened the door. He needed to clean up before he faced Penny or anyone else.