Rating: PG (for language)
Word Count: 1,792
Summary: The boys are gone and Penny's pining, but her mind and body are at odds.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm a Sheldon/Penny fan. Doesn't that make such a disclaimer unnecessary at this point in time?
Spoilers: General knowledge of both seasons 1-2, as well as specific for 1.01: Pilot, 2.22: The Classified Materials Turbulence, and 2.23: The Monopolar Expedition; AU for season 3.
Notes: alsaurusrex, thelymachy, damalur and southern_heaven for their help in figuring this one out. It only took a few months for me to do so. This is another fairly short one; but the next one will be longer. However, I still am working out kinks in it so it may be a bit more time before I post it.
Previous chapters: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
May 16, 2009 – 6:33 pm
Her laundry was done, but her thoughts were still whirling when she got another invitation to Skype. Warily, she agreed. She wasn't happy with the information given to her by Stuart, but she'd just deal with Leonard if he ever got the guts to bring it up. (Likely not, she figured.) And Stuart was right; the most important thing remained between them: the aberration. Neither Leonard, nor Sheldon knew about that. And that is how it would remain. Despite what Lauren had said, Penny was still convinced that she was right and that calling what had happened anything other than an aberration was just crazy.
"Hello, Penny." It wasn't Leonard speaking.
Penny found herself rushing to sit in front of the screen of her laptop, her stomach all aflutter. It was Sheldon, this time he was sitting down, instead of standing at attention like a Starfleet officer -- her eyes widened and she looked away a moment, shaking her head quickly. Man, she spent way too much time with her boys. "Penny, are you alright?" Sheldon's voice brought her back.
Turning to look at him, her eyes traveled over his face and chest where she could see the top of the Flash logo. "I'm fine. I just -- where's everyone, Sheldon?" He didn't answer right away, instead he stared at her searchingly for a moment before glancing quickly down at his shirt. "Sheldon?" she repeated and he gazed back up at her and blinked before speaking.
"They are setting up helium mixture gas proportional counters to produce large signals for the slow-moving monopoles. We've decided to use the atomic induction mechanism proposed by Drell." His eyes lit up as began to explain what exactly this Drell had proposed, but she'd stopped listening and he finally shut up when no doubt noticing the glazed look that had clouded her gaze. With a roll of his eyes and a peeved sigh, he skipped the scientific mumbo-jumbo. "They are presently outside, while I am alone in here which makes this ideal as I -- well, I wanted to speak with you." He paused, licking his lips. "Privately." And she could have sworn his eyes dipped to her lips before jumping back up to meet her gaze. And just like that, when she met the blue, the butterflies went into warp speed and she knew, with that one word, that one stolen glance, that one look ... she knew that it wasn't the Mexican food. And with that acceptance came a peace that had been stolen a few weeks ago in the back of Stuart's car.
Shaking her head, she couldn't help the gentle smile that crossed her face. "Lauren was right," she murmured to herself. Despite all of her grousing and denials, suddenly -- in the very face of it -- Penny was fine with it; she couldn't be upset when she was looking right at him. At the moment, even his comical look of confusion was endearing. "I miss you, Sheldon," she said softly.
The confusion faded away as a slight blush lit his face. Ducking his head, he nodded jerkily. "I miss you as well, Penny. This, I admit, has come as a surprise." He paused and met her gaze, a boldness now meshed with the shy. " I must say that I also find it surprising to hear the same from you."
Thinking over the last few days of confused mental torment, Penny let out a dry laugh, "yeah, the feeling's mutual."
Sheldon opened his mouth to respond, then stopped with a perturbed look on his face. "Seeing you the other day reminded me of home." Her smile bloomed and Sheldon inhaled sharply. He straightened his shoulders, as if getting a firm grasp on himself and the softness of his gaze melted away before he narrowed his eyes. Giving a quick shake of his head, he began speaking rapidly. "Speaking of ... have you been airing out the apartment? Getting and sorting the mail, and making sure there are no expired items in the refrigerator or cabinets per my itemized lists?"
Sitting up straighter, Penny's eyes widened and although she noticed his eyes dropping away from her face quickly before rebounding back with an even narrower squint, she was suddenly too exasperated to wonder about it. Maybe it was because of her frustration with all of her own confusion the last couple of days, or it could be because he had just ruined the moment. Then again, perhaps it was because he was thousands of miles and three months away that any strike didn't matter. Possibly it was because she missed their sparring. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because he was simply Sheldon and he drove her insane and thus deserved some payback. Of course, she smiled as she slumped back against the couch, it could just be that it was so very them. Her grin turned evil. "Nope." She drew out the 'o' and popped the 'p.'
"Well, I hope tha -- what?!" He sputtered; he actually sputtered. "Penny, I left very detailed and specific instructions."
"I know," she responded simply, and her smile softened to sweet. She even widened her eyes innocently and threw in a little head tilt. This time she did note how he cocked his head slightly to match her own and his gaze wandered over the curve of her neck before straightening up again with a start, his posture rigid.
"Well, then why?" That high-pitched squeak that sometimes became his voice when he was emotional took over. "I mean –" and there he went sputtering again. "Penny! What reason could you possibly have for not doing the incredibly simple tasks that I require of you?"
Looking away from the monitor, her jaw dropped a tad and she muttered to herself, "Did he actually say what I just heard him say?" Turning back to face him, she clucked her tongue and pursed her lips. "Of course he did," she answered herself.
"Did what?! Who? Are you talking about me? Penny, is someone else there?" He was past sputtering, and now his voice sounded strangled in exasperation. And a beat of red flushed his face. "If you are playing games at my expense, well, I --" Penny's grin softened into a sweet smile. Poor baby, she thought. He's about to have a fit.
"Sheldon, I'm alone. I wouldn't tease you like this with anyone around." The blush faded and he took a breath.
"Well, I should think not." She could tell he was straightening his Flash tee-shirt just out of view of the camera. When all was well, he spoke again, his tone not happy. "Now, back to the matter at hand. Again, I ask: What reason could you possibly have for not doing what I require of you?" His gaze was imperious, eyes wide and demanding and Penny couldn't help it. She laughed, filled with a crazy joy. This was the man she'd fallen for? Seriously, this guy? What I require of you, my ass!, she thought, but it was filled with affection. And for the first time, it hit her that -- although thinly veiled and surely Sheldon had no idea -- there had been a touch of flirting in their fighting all along. Shaking her head, Penny ignored his pointed glare and thought of their first meeting in his apartment. His white board, his tentative smile as he showed off his science genius and she couldn't understand for the life of her that she -- the social queen -- hadn't realized it from the first. The butterflies may have been quiet due to his, well Sheldon-ness, but they'd so been lying in wait and one sweaty night in the back of Stuart's car had unleashed them somehow. Like Lauren said, the combination of Stuart's similarities to Sheldon, and what she thought were "sublimated feelings" for Leonard. When it had been Sheldon all along.
"Penny? Penny?! PENNY?!" Jerking up, she met his now infuriated gaze. Penny couldn't help but continue to smile fondly at the tall, lanky jerk and she noticed for the first time how big and beautiful his eyes were. "I'm beginning to seriously re-assess any warm regard in consideration of our distance at this moment, Penny," he bit out stiffly.
Laughing, she relaxed again and rolled her eyes. "Sheldon, I checked your refrigerator and cabinets, got your mail, sorted it and wrapped it with rubber bands to keep the days separated. And, yes, I aired out the apartment. All per your list. Happy?"
"No," he sniffed, "Although, I'm no longer unhappy. I just don't understand why you simply didn't say so in the first place instead of lying to me and unnecessarily riling my emotions."
"Maybe it's because you were being an ass," she offered with a bright smile and felt an almost misty joy at the thought that she truly did miss him; God help her, she was crazy about him. Dr. Sheldon Cooper, OCD-insane, beautiful mind-genius, nit-picker-extraordinaire. Go figure. She sighed happily and caught just the teeniest bit of a smirk from him before he quickly schooled his expression.
"I -- I do not know how to respond other than to express my complete and utter disagreement with your statement. I was merely -- "
" -- okay, fine. So," she dragged out the word. "Whatcha doing, Moonpie?" She stretched tightly and took a deep breath, her chest rising and falling with the action. As she settled back into place, she noticed that his gaze had dropped again, but this time … hmm. Curiouser and curiouser. A most unexpected thing. Sheldon's eyes were glued to her breasts. Yes, Sheldon as in Dr. Sheldon 'I'm-not-afflicted-with-sexual-appetites'
His gaze jerked up as if he'd been stung and his face turned beet red. "I have to go. Goodbye, Penny." He reached to shut their connection down, and then stopped, his entire frame freezing. He looked past her head, avoiding her eyes and spoke, his tone stilted. "Do continue to follow my itemized lists." He inhaled sharply and then his shoulders slumped and he sighed resignedly before continued in a softer voice. "Please." There was another long pause and then his gaze, soft once more, finally met hers again. "On further thought, my warm regard remains intact. Goodbye, Penny."
His image flickered and disappeared. Penny pressed a hand lightly to her stomach, and let out a tremulous breath. It didn't stop the butterflies from playing tag.