Authors Note: The content is dark, the rating is debatable. One-shot. This is what happens when my hiatus is caused by pain, not distraction. So, enjoy my suffering. And by default, Penny and Sheldons.
He feels her before he hears her.
He feels the angry vibrations all the way up the steps and across the hall to her door, her knee high black heeled boots pounding hard enough against the steps to leave marks. She sounds angry, he muses his eyes drifting from his whiteboard to his door. But the thought passes as quickly as it comes and Sheldons attention is otherwise occupied on the equations dancing on the board, the red marker scrawling away the numbers dancing behind his eyes.
Its not until he hears the sound of screaming and glass shattering, does he bolt towards the apartment next door.
She can feel him, everywhere.
Her head is spinning and her lip feels puffy and every part of her aches in a way that shes never experienced before. She can feel the way his hands around her wrists, the scrape of the brick wall against her bare shoulder blades, she can feel his knee between her legs forcing them apart.
Her hand grips the counter and her knuckles turn white. There was no Nebraskan on anybody's ass. There was no self-defense heel to the groin, punch to the jaw, kick to the abdomen. She had been over-powered and conquered single handily in a span that couldnt have taken more than twenty minutes.
The alcohol on her counter glistens with the reminder that she should have never gone out tonight.
A wave of hysteria crashes over her and she lets go of the counter and in a fit of rage, she sends bottle after bottle of liquor shattering on the linolium of her kitchen. She's screaming and cussing and she cant even recognize what shes saying because she's not sure she's saying anything at all. It's just noise.
And than he's entering her apartment, eyes wide like a baby deer caught in the headlights of the car, and she's immediately angry at him. Because how dare he come in here? How dare he witness this, something that is beyond his comprehension because its not string whatever or quantom whatsits. How dare he come into her apartment with blue eyes so wide like that, and looking absolutely mortified- emotions flooding his face that she's never seen on him before. But her visions blurring and she could very well be imagining it.
"Get out of here" her voice is no more than a whisper, and she knows it doesnt matter- with his vulcan hearing he's bound to pick it up.
It's the sight of her that has his voice stuck somewhere in his throat. Her hair is matted and she has an awful abrasion on the side of her head- blonde hair sticking to the bloody wound. Her lower lip is puffy and dried blood has stained her chin. The alarming part isnt her teary eyes, or even her mangled face. Its the jagged piece of the remainder of the captain morgan bottle that she's digging into the palm of her hand. He bites his lower lip and he cant tear his eyes away from her hand. He can already see the blood slowly trickling down the glass and he vaguely feels faint.
He doesnt fully comprehend whats going on- he curses himself for being so socially inept when clearly Penny needs him in a way he's quite certain he cant fullfill. He wishes it was himself who was working late and not Leonard- but somehow, deep down, he has a feeling Leonard in this case would not be a reliable person in this situation.
"Penny, I think it would be best if you were to relinquish the glass Im not sure if you are aware but you are-"
"GET OUT OF HERE!"
And somehow, she has poised the glass at her other forearm as if causing herself physical harm would in fact, cause him physical harm.
He didnt expect the thought to be accurate- but the way his gut was clenching told him that her threat was not only accurate but well orchestrated. He took a deep breath before taking a step forward, his fight or flight instincts causing each baby step to be awkward and twitchy even to himself. Its not until he's arms length away from her, his hand extending towards her wrist, in a manner that is even painstakingly slow for him does she recoil, the glass falling from her hands, as well as Penny to her knees.
Her hands knot their way into her scalp and she has her eyes clenched as slightly as if he's backhanded her instead of just reached for her. She's screaming again, and he managed a "DONT TOUCH ME" somewhere in her chaos. The sound startles him so badly, he takes two steps backwards as if she's slapped him before falling roughly on his ass.
He cant breathe as he watches her trembling frame, tears running down her cheeks in a way- he's never seen her cry. His brain is flooded with danger, danger and it takes everything inside of him not to bolt out the way he came. He's not an idiot- it was not clear before what troubled Penny before- but her words seemed to tie everything together without her actually having to say anything.
He knows the statistics of rape from the generalized to the pasadena area. He knows what it means to be raped, and has a very broad psychological understanding of the endeavor. It's another thing to see its side effects on someone he's grown to love.
"Penny." He says softly, his eyes on her crumpled form, he forces the lump on his throat down trying his hardest not to tear his eyes away at the devastation in front of him. "I know this is probably the last thing you want to do right now. But I need to take you to a hospital."
She has a blanket draped over her shoulders and she's sitting in a private room in the hospital waiting for a nurse to come in with some sort of kit. She hasnt heard much of anything and isnt quite sure how Sheldon even got her here. He stands away from her like she has a disease, an entire persons length away from her the entire time since theyve been here.
She hates him for it, and at the same time she appreciates it. She wants him to hug her, and she wants him to never look in her direction again. Her clothes are bagged, things are swabbed, pictures are taken, and she's somehow along the way gone mute.
"Do you know what your assaulter looked like mam'?" A nurse asks "Any description will help- we are doing are best to get you home as fast as you can-"
She looks at them, and they all look at her sadly- touching her, arm, hands, shoulder- squeezes of reassuranace. They look to Sheldon as if he could pry the words from her sewn shut mouth, and he looks unwilling to try as he closes the person like space between them. His hand rests next to hers on the emergency room 'bed'. His hand is not touching hers- but its close enough that any movement would cause their fingers to brush, and she can feel the heat radiating between their fingers.
He's right there. She muses, her green eyes turning to meet his stern blue ones.
"Did you know him Penny?" His voice was soft, coaxing. "And if you did not, anything you remember will be helpful- we can always...come back if you dont want to do this now. Ill come back with you."
The fact that being here with her and all the germs somehow, tugs something out of her and the words escape her mouth before she has a chance to control them.
"He had brown eyes."
His pinky twitches and bumps hers as he withdrawals and continues a conversation with a nurse.
He watches her out of his peripheral, her head slumped against the window and he sucks in a breath as he almost runs a red light. He gets her home on sheer adrenaline, and on sheer luck does he get her into her apartment.
They get into her apartment, and the moon is causing the broken glass on the floor to shimmer, and Penny lets out a sob as she crosses her way to the couch and sits down. He turns on the light quickly before looking towards her uncertainly.
"Im going to draw you a bath and while you uhm...while you relax, Ill clean up the kitchen."
He scuttles away from the room quickly, needing a moment to breathe from all the chaos that is Penny's apartment, from all the chaos that is now Penny. He tests the water to a little more than a lukewarm temperature and finds some bubbles to add to the water. He watches them float to the top and fill the tub in a colorful pink, the smell of candy apples filling the room.
That smells like Penny, he thought softly.
"Penny." Sheldon said moving back out into the living room, "your bath is ready." He hated the way she rose from the couch. The movement reminded him of that of a zombie, she was so rigid as she watched passed him, he was almost afraid to leave her alone- but now as afraid as he was to follow her.
He chose the broom and a dustpan, cleaning up broken glass was a lot easier and a lot less messy than trying to clean up a broken person.
Its the mirror that's her downfall, somehow stripping out of her fresh clothes (that Sheldon brought with her to the hospital- how prepared of him) wasnt difficult. It was her reflection that was staring back at her that was hard to deal with.
It wasnt the bandage on the side of her face or her puffy lip. It was the black and blue hickeys on her breasts or the fingerprints of a stranger on her hips. It was the look in her eyes, the look of nothing that disturbed her the most.
Maybe it was an attempt to feel something, from the shut down she had put herself in. Maybe it was an attempt to feel nothing from all the things she was forced to feel at that very moment. She was never very good at psychology.
But, somehow, her fist through that mirror and her crippled reflection, made things- if for a moment, just a tiny microscopic bit better.
He's scrubbing the floor when he hears the glass shatter, and fear pounds into his veins and rushes to his ears. He shouldnt have left her alone. She needs him, but he doesnt know how. He's doing what he knows and for once, for the first time ever, it isnt much. It isnt enough, and even as he rushess into the bathroom to greet her naked form, his eyes hit the cracked mirror first. But the bruises that litter her chest are unmissable.
She's gone numb again staring at her reflection, five penny's staring back at her instead of one.
He clears his throat, making himself known and she does not flinch, nor respond though her green eyes flicker over towards his blue ones.
"Do you need help getting into the tub?"
She stares at him expectantly and he closess that gap between them as tenderly as he can manage. He lays a gentle hand on her forearm, four long fingers, and he does not enclose them. She doesnt flinch from his touch, more like her skin shudders, and he waits patiently for her to give a sign, if any that its ok to guide her.
She doesnt give him one and he continues to wait, before lightly curling his fingers around her and assisting her to a sitting position into her tub. The bubbles covering her bruised breasts and hiding the events of the trauma of her body. It seems to relax her some, having the marks hidden, and he sits next to her on the rim of the tub.
"Penny, would you like me to braid your hair?"
The question is so odd to her, as she stares up at him. She had forgotten underneath all of Sheldons aloof ignorant OCD denecies and characteristics- he really was a gentle soul. She didnt really have the words for him, she wasnt sure of what to say- or what to do from here. Her mind was everywhere but, but somehow when his long fingers ran shampoo through her hair and she started to smell like apples instead of sweat and.../him/ it felt better.
He washed her hair throughly, massaging her scalp as his fingers skillfully braided her hair. He talked as he worked, less lecture like she noticed- and forced herself despite the blankness that clouded her head- to listen. She wanted to be somewhere else that wasnt here, that wasnt her- and she could tell that he was trying in his own way to make that happen.
"My sister use to make me braid her hair. Daily. When she was seven, every single day I had to braid her hair since mother pulls to tightly and no one else had the patience or the mannerisms to learn. George use to tease me relentlessly, but my sister? It was one of the only times we ever got along. And by only, it was one of three times we got along in our entire life span. The strange thing is- it never really bothered me to do it. I didnt feel ashamed or emasculated as George so kindly put it. It was almost relaxing."
His voice had a dejavu sound to it. Though she knows with his eidetic memory thats not what she's detecting. Maybe its nostalgia. She cant place the sound she's hearing, and before she can stop herself- because her voice right now is something she doesnt trust- she's talking anyway.
"Thank you Sheldon."
He pauses mid talking, and she catches him looking away- before turning back and tying her braid with a black hair tye. He's knocked silent by her manners and she's not sure why he cant bring himself to say your welcome.
He leaves her to get dressed, but stays to tuck her into bed.
He sings her soft kitty until she goes to sleep.
(because being raped is a kind of sick)
He takes care of calling her manager at the cheesecake factory and making sure she has the next four days off. He's not sure how long she will need, but he figures it will be enough and if it isnt he can always call again. He finishes cleaning the kitchen, and then cleans the rest of the house for good meassure.
By the time, he enters his apartment, its 4am, and Leonard has long since returned home and gone to bed.
He makes a trip to the bathroom and though it isnt his designated time slot, he finds himself staring rigorously at his own appearance, anger boiling up and crossing his features. His hand strikes forward and smashes the mirror and the pieces shatter down into the sink.
How can he call himself a man when he can not protect, one of the few people he loves? How can he not ponder- if I were there things could have been different- when in fact- they could not? He could not have protected Penny anymore than he could help her now. His mind is great- but great minds do not heal broken ones. Great minds do not stand a chance against great fists.
It is the first time in his life that Sheldon Cooper is repulsed by his intellect and hes just grateful that he no longer has to look himself in the eyes as he washes his blood from his knuckles and down the drain.
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