This is my first entry into this fandom or whatnot; it popped into my head when watching the show, specifically the first season. It's definitely an A.U., and something I would have found interesting to happen.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Big Bang Theory or any of the characters therein.
Penny did her best to make the party great, but everything seemed to be working against her. Why couldn't things just go her way for once?
"Why'd you invite them?" Lisa asked beside her, and she didn't have to ask who she was talking about. "You think if I flashed them, they'd all faint? Actually, that one would probably just try to take pictures."
"Stop it," she snapped half-heartedly. "Look, they've been really great so far and kind, so I wanted to show them a good time with the party. They're easily the best neighbors I've ever had, and I thought… maybe they'd get out of their shells or something if I invited them."
"Two of them have 'Mommy Issues' written all over them, and that Indian one won't even say a word. That tall one… I don't even know what to make of him."
Penny grimaced. "I know. But look, Sheldon's smart. Like, Einstein smart. The others are smart, too, but… not like him at least."
Lisa stared at her with an eyebrow raised. "If they're so smart, then why they makin' everyone uncomfortable? Robin Hood's lookin' at the riches alright: every pair of breasts. That might be the normalest thing any of them have been doing tonight. They're weird, Pen."
She bit her lip. "I just wanted to help."
"Guys like them can't be helped." Lisa shrugged. "It's too late, and I don't really care. All I care about is having a good time, which those weirdos of yours have made sure isn't happening. Look, if you wanna get over Kurt, stop worrying about your weirdos and find the guy who's gonna make you forget about Kurt. Maybe that guy's here, but you don't know if you don't look."
Penny nodded. "You're right. I mean, they're adults, right? Even if… Sheldon went to college at eleven- "
Lisa's eyes widened. "Eleven? You weren't kidding, were you? His brain's gotta be the size of a planet or something."
"And I'm pretty sure he's got the ego to match it," she murmured. "He has one of those beautiful minds, you know? Remember that movie with Russel Crowe? It's like that. I can't even imagine how his mind works."
"Then don't try. Imagine something else. You with a new guy all hot and sweaty who'll make you forget about Kurt."
"Right." She tried to force herself to stop worrying about Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj, by looking around her apartment. "They can take care of themselves. Sheldon's, like, the tallest person here. I need to stop worrying."
"Yes. That's exa- " Lisa cut herself off abruptly and Penny turned to look at her, but she nodded to the door. "Look."
Penny followed Lisa's gaze and saw Kurt, decked solely in a loincloth, walk through her open door.
Sheldon's mind finally started to slow down as a silence fell over the party, a reprieve for which he was grateful, even if the reprieve was a direct result of the appearance of Penny's ex-boyfriend, Kurt, an intellect-atrophied brute. Remaining on the couch, feeling the prickle of fear, he watched.
Beside him, Leonard stared, wide-eyed. "Should we do something?" he whispered. "What if- "
"I believe Penny is handling it," he intervened. "Observe."
"You invite everyone else but me?" Kurt's voice cut through the room; he dwarfed Penny's form. "That hurts. After everything we've been through, babe, you just decide- "
Penny interrupted, "You're damn right you weren't invited. Get out."
Kurt opened his arms. "What? Why would I leave? I just got here."
"You're not welcome," Penny said through gritted teeth. Sheldon was reminded of his mother and Missy. "Get out, Kurt."
According to the social protocols that he had studied, usually, a friend would come to Penny's aid and demand Kurt's departure, but when he observed all of Penny's friends, no one came to her aid.
"Come on." Kurt stepped closer into Penny's space, but she defiantly glared up at him. "Are you still mad at me? It was a mistake- "
"It was a mistake to believe you the last four times it happened!" Penny snapped, arms swinging with the force of her emotions. "I'm done with you, Kurt."
"Done?" Kurt asked lowly. "We're not done, babe. We can never be done."
"We are when you cheat on me with those skanks!" Penny shouted. "How could you sleep with that bitch?"
Kurt laughed. "I slept with you, didn't I?"
Penny stepped back, anger crossing her face. "Get the fuck out, Kurt. I don't want to see you ever again."
Kurt's face flashed and Sheldon stiffened in his seat as those large hands latched onto Penny's shoulders. "You don't get to make that call. I decide when we're done, not you. You hear me?"
"I hear bullshit!"
Kurt snarled and roughly shook Penny for emphasis, whipping her body between his hands with great force.
Lightning suddenly struck, jaded bolts hammering into Sheldon's mind as he was catapulted to the past, memories to which he had sworn never to return surging past every mental barrier he had ever erected. Past and present converged, an unholy union, and he remembered everything. Father holding Mother, violently shaking her, drawing a shaking fist back and then raw flesh smacking against flesh, harsh discolored bruises marring Mother's skin.
Something primal rose inside, a flashback-induced fury; it was an incredible stimulant. While he had never been able to help his mother as a child, he could help a woman who reminded him of her. Epinephrine flooded his body, triggered by his sympathetic nervous system; he felt his heart rate increase and neurons fired faster than ever before.
Sheldon stood to his feet, feeling determined and… eager.
Penny grit her teeth, fear and anger warring against one another in her mind as her party was ruined. She tried to push Kurt's arms away, his rough hands, but he was so much stronger than her.
Suddenly, a movement from the corner of her eye caught her attention - and Kurt's, too, for he turned, grip relaxing. Penny turned her head, expecting maybe Lisa, but it wasn't her 'friend.' While she was beyond grateful to see Sheldon glaring at Kurt, standing to his feet, she was terrified because Kurt would crush him!
Kurt began to laugh mockingly, staring at Sheldon; he let go of Penny to confront his challenger. "You again, string bean? You here to play the hero? And what the fuck are you dressed like anyway? You a retard or something?"
Penny swallowed and was about to try to intervene, but something in Sheldon's blue eyes stopped her; there was a quiet, cold fury lurking in those depths.
"I am dressed as The Doppler Effect, not that a simpleton like you could ever comprehend what it represents." Sheldon, to her shock, drew himself up to look taller as he stepped closer until several feet were between them. "Penny asked you to depart. I would be grateful if you did. I find your presence a hindrance to any notion of intellectual stimulation."
Kurt frowned. "What?"
Sheldon actually rolled his eyes, and Penny's eyes widened even further if that were possible. "In your feeble vernacular, I think you are moronic."
Penny would have laughed if it were any other situation, but she didn't feel like laughing.
Kurt took a threatening step forward. "Yo- you think I'm stupid?"
"I'm gonna fuck you up, freak," Kurt snarled, hand curling into fists, and Penny remembered what those fists were capable of. "I'll show you what a 'stupid' person can do to a retard like you."
"Kurt, stop!" she cried out, but it seemed as if neither heard her.
Sheldon stood tall, a true man instead of the overgrown man-child she had pegged him as. "If you attempt to harm me, you will find yourself in worse financial straits. Ones from which you might never recover. Based on the observations I conducted of your apartment when Leonard and I attempted to retrieve Penny's television for her, your possessions are scarce and few. How would it feel to have no possessions?"
Penny looked to the couch and Leonard looked more shocked than she felt, face pale and eyes bulging from their sockets, but none of her 'friends' were standing to their feet to try to stop the inevitable fight and come between the two men - brute versus scientist. Lisa was looking away, glued to the wall like a wallflower.
Kurt blinked rapidly, and she began to realize that Sheldon could talk circles around all of them. "What the fuck are you talkin' about?"
"Based on your semi-nude appearance, it's blatant that you are poverty-stricken, dressed solely in an ostentatious loincloth for that must be all you can afford, which is unsurprising when considering your barren intellect."
Penny hoped that this was all a terrible nightmare because Sheldon was about to be ground into dust.
"Based on the way your countenance has contorted in bemusement, I must speak plainly. Colloquially, if you attempt to harm me, I will sue you for assault."
Kurt's face reddened and Penny feared for Sheldon's life; apparently, he had no sense of self-preservation.
"Just go," she hissed out to Kurt. "He doesn't mean what he's saying." Penny turned to look at Sheldon desperately, urging him with her eyes to agree. "Right, Sheldon?"
Sheldon just blinked at her. "Of course, I mean what I have said. Why would I lie? I will sue him if necessary."
Penny closed her eyes. Yep. He had no sense of self-preservation and no social skill in reading someone's eyes. She shouldn't have been surprised.
"You're a pussy!" Kurt sneered, body vibrating under the force of his rage. "What kinda man are you?"
Sheldon's brows furrowed. "I fail to grasp your colloquial reference to the female anatomy when I have a Y chromosome and functioning penis."
Penny wasn't the only one surprised by the literal reply, for Kurt took a step back. "Yo- you're a fuckin' freak!"
"And you are unwanted," Sheldon countered bluntly to her amazement. "I do not understand why you feel shocked at such news. Your minuscule intellect should attest to your undesirable presence. Having encountered you twice now, although impossible, I feel that my intellect has lessened based solely on being subjected to the presence of the embodiment of idiocy."
She almost choked on the tense silence that descended across her apartment, but her mind was on fire with sheer panic, but somehow, Sheldon simply stood before Kurt. While there was a tightness in his tall, lithe frame, she inherently knew that it wasn't from fear. If she wasn't mistaken, it was from anger.
Taking the moment to her advantage, she placed a hand on Kurt's arm. "Please, leave. This doesn't have to- "
Kurt ignored her, brushing past her to stomp towards Sheldon. "Least I get all the pussy I want. You're a fuckin' freak who has to pay to get any."
Penny's anger erupted. "You liar!" she snarled, propelling herself towards Kurt. "You cheated on me with that strippe- "
"Shut up," Kurt growled out. "This don't have nothin' to do with you."
Her eyes widened at his outrageous claim, hardly believing her ears. "What? Nothing to do with me? You slept with that skanky stripper, but you… Oh, why am I not surprised? Cash talks and bullshit walks!" Penny felt all of the pairs of eyes on her, but ignored them. "Get the fuck out! Now!"
Sheldon nodded. "Your presence is akin to a noxious odor. Desist from- "
"Fuck you! I ain't goin' nowhere. Ain't that right?" Kurt looked around at her guests to the party, and since almost all of them knew him, Penny wasn't surprised when none challenged him like Sheldon did. "See? The party's only begun when I get here."
Her face twisted. "You're drunk."
Kurt laughed. "And the retard has to pay to get pussy!"
Sheldon frowned. "I do not follow."
"Why would you?" Kurt continued to laugh and it was boisterous, ringing in her ears. "This retard here's a fuckin' virgin. Probably doesn't even know where to put it!"
Penny shoved at Kurt's broad chest, but he barely budged. "Leave him alone! Get out! This is the last time- "
Kurt leaned down, rough hands curling across her shoulders once again, squeezing tightly; there would be marks later, she knew. "Last time you'll what? What the fuck you gonna do?"
"Remove yourself from Penny's apartment," Sheldon demanded coldly, and when she tried to jerk away from Kurt's grip, she saw that Sheldon's blue eyes were on fire. He was a mad scientist in all his glory, used to commanding authority and demanding obedience from everyone. "Penny has demanded your departure, and if you will not leave of your own volition, the police will ensure you do."
The mention of the police made Kurt remove his hands from her shoulders and she immediately took several steps back as Kurt stared at her. "Come on, babe. Leave this retarded freak- "
"Don't call him that!" Penny snapped through gritted teeth. "He's smarter than you could ever be!"
Sheldon nodded approvingly when she glanced at him. "Affirmative."
Kurt glared at Sheldon, turning away from her. "Fuck off, retard. You're only playing hero 'cause you want to fuck her, right?"
Was that true? Penny didn't know. When they had first met, there had definitely been interest, but it had vanished probably because of Leonard.
Stupid guys with their stupid bro code or whatever.
Sheldon didn't even blink. "My defense of Penny stems from the chivalric past and experiences that you could never comprehend."
"Well, hero, I get all the women. I had Penny a lot." She tried not to flinch at that fact. That she had been so stupid like all of those other girls to sleep with him and live with him. "Unlike you, I got gifts, the muscles and- "
"History teaches those willing to discover," Sheldon interrupted, voice rising; it demanded attention and comprehension. Penny stared, for this wasn't the man she had come to know, but the actual genius Doctor who had multiple PhDs to his name. It was hot. "All things are subject to decay. You may be on the receiving end of female adulation now, but what happens in a decade? Two decades? Your strength and handsome features will begin to fade, curing all of your misguided admirers of their affliction. You will be ravished by time, and you will have nothing to which to return, for you squander intellectual stimulation in the pursuit of physical, wanton pleasures. You will fail to retain your so-called gifts, whereas I will always have my mind. You will not always have your body, for it will fail until it withers away, and then where will you be? Upon your demise, you will leave no lasting legacy." When Sheldon took a step forward, Kurt took a step back, face pale. "The world will not remember your name, but it will remember mine - Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Galileo. Newton. Planck. Einstein. Bohr. Schrödinger. Feynman. They were the greatest minds in history, and their names are the ones by which mine will reside when my life is concluded. What about you?"
Penny couldn't breathe and couldn't remember a time when she had felt so shocked as Kurt stumbled back towards the opening of the apartment.
"Fuck you!" he shouted before storming away.
She wasn't the only one who stared at Sheldon in awe, but he didn't even notice, for he glanced down at his watch, face twisting with horror.
"My schedule! It's been hopelessly disrupted!" Immediately alarmed, he turned to face her, eyes connecting - panicked versus amazed. "It's past my bedtime. I wish you pleasant REM cycles, Penny."
Before she could even try to respond, to thank him and express her sheer gratitude for what he did for her, he swiftly glided out of her apartment and entered his own.
"Woah," Lisa breathed out from behind her, piercing the stunned silence. She didn't look to see the expression on her face, for she knew it was the same one on her own. "He's got that hot professor thing goin' on."
Penny wholeheartedly agreed.
Penny was in a daze since her party ended, staying up past midnight, thinking about everything; even when she changed and took a bath, her mind was somewhere else. Lisa had tried to talk to her, but she had brushed her off, not wanting to talk to her so-called friend who didn't do anything to help her when Kurt upended everything. Instead, her help had come from the most unlikely source.
While Leonard, Howard, and Raj had suddenly become a lot more interesting because of Sheldon's heroics in standing up to Kurt, especially by the women, and they each found a female companion for the night because of it, she found Sheldon much more interesting - incredibly more interesting!
He had stood up for her.
No one had really done that for her before. Sure, guys had fought over her before in high school, but that was so they could get into her pants. Sheldon's reasoning, it sounded like, had been because it was the right thing to do - and that thing with experiences.
In high school, she had read Shakespeare and fallen in love with his grand language, which fueled her desire to become an actress. She had read the work of an undoubted genius, but it seemed that actually knowing a genius was different than she had imagined. Based on everything she had seen of Sheldon, he never slowed down; his brain was in a constant state of processing and analyzing, breaking down situations and problems to find a solution.
It was actually amazing.
Penny liked to think that she was really good at reading people, although her experience with Kurt let her know that she had some definite blind spots. But she thought she had had the boys all pegged.
Leonard was sweet with his blatant crush on her and social awkwardness, the smart nerd in school who always got straight A's. She still didn't know what to make of Raj, having not had a single conversation with him, but he seemed shy and sweet, and then Howard was a total pervert with the worst fashion sense she had ever seen. Most importantly, she had thought she had Sheldon pegged. Thought him to be comparable to the genius who never showed up to school for the entire year except on test days and effortlessly, flawlessly aced the tests in less than five minutes.
But apparently, there was so much more to Sheldon that she had thought. Having watched him stand up to Kurt, verbally dismantle him with such an ease that it stole her breath, she found him attractive, the most attractive guy. Sheldon wasn't an overgrown man-child like she had kind of thought he was. A man-child would never stand up to Kurt to defend her, and a man-child clearly wouldn't be so smart. In their confrontation, when Kurt had been left floundering, Sheldon had been composed. Where Kurt was a boy, no matter how many muscles he had, Sheldon was truly a man. A genius at the top of his field, better than everyone it seemed like. While she wasn't blind to Sheldon's quirks, having already experienced them, those quirks were infinitely better than being forced to deal with Kurt and all of her past boyfriends' shit.
Feeling the inexplicable urge to talk to Sheldon, to thank him, she exited her apartment, crossing the hall in her bare feet. Placing her knuckles to the wood of the door, she knocked and waited.
Inwardly debating, she saw the glimpse of light from under the door and tried the doorknob half-heartedly, stunned when it twisted under her fingers. Penny hesitantly opened the door and entered the apartment, freezing in her tracks when she saw Sheldon sitting in his spot on the couch, dressed in flannel pajamas, a keyboard before him, and his eyes were closed. He had headphones on, and the rhythmic thump of the keys was all that she could hear, but her eyes were mesmerized as his long fingers meticulously, precisely, and rapidly moved across the keys with such familiarity. His fingers blurred so fast that she was certain he had more than ten fingers.
Penny gazed at him, finding that it didn't surprise her that Sheldon could play a piano with his eyes closed - and play it so effortlessly! She didn't know how long she stood there, but it was then she noticed the empty wine glass sitting on the table, a small drop of liquid remaining at the bottom. Before she could even comprehend that Sheldon drank, the man in question's eyes opened, fingers motionless, hovering over the keys.
When he saw her, those eyes bulged from their sockets. "Penny?" he gasped out, pulling off his headphones. "It's past midnight. No one is allowed- "
"I'm sorry," she interrupted, shutting the door. "The door was unlocked." Sheldon's eyes darted in a glare towards Leonard's bedroom. "I wanted to talk to you. I can't sleep."
"An affliction from which I, too, suffer," Sheldon murmured, warily looking at her. "Penny, it is past midnight. No one is allowed- "
"I just want to talk to you. That's it. I mean, we're both up. What's the harm in talking?"
Sheldon twitched. "Why do you wish to talk? Did your party not offer suitable stimulation?"
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Your lack of suitable stimulation?"
Penny blinked before shaking her head; she walked towards the couch. "Can I sit?"
"May you sit," he corrected.
She normally would have rolled her eyes but didn't have the urge. "May I sit?"
Penny slowly lowered herself to the couch, seated next to Sheldon, space between them; her eyes roamed over the keyboard. "I didn't know you played the piano."
"I do, but this is an electronic keyboard."
"What were you playing? Beethoven?"
"Mozart is perfect," Sheldon's voice lowered slightly. "His music is structured, balanced, and elegant. Everything music should be. It is how life and people should be."
Penny began to understand. "And you need those things, don't you?"
"Despite my sheer intellectual prowess, I fail to understand people, something undoubtedly foreign to you." Sheldon glanced at her for a moment, and she saw the weight in his eyes. "You possess a gift that I, in some instances, envy. People are complicated. They are chaotic and unpredictable. I prefer order and structure. Balance."
She nodded slowly, considering. "Is that why you like physics?"
"According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, all things gravitate towards entropy- "
"Chaos. Yet, still, the universe functions. There is order, balance. Everything is structured in its grand design. I enjoy it."
"So you can understand that better than people," she finished in understanding. "Studying the universe is… easier than studying people for you."
Sheldon glanced at her, blue eyes electric. "While the mysteries of the universe remain an enigma to me, if I can eventually decipher those mysteries and win my Nobel, maybe I will then be capable of understanding people."
Penny found that kind of heartbreaking, but she smiled softly. "You know, that… makes sense in a weird way."
"I am well accustomed to being considered 'weird.'"
Her eyes widened. "No, I'm not calling you weird. I just meant tha- that your thinking is unique. I've never met anyone like that before."
Sheldon preened, looking pleased. "You will never encounter someone like me." His face seemed to fall and she leaned forward in concern. "I am superior, but I am still human. I have tested myself numerous times in the hopes that the grand discovery that I am of a superior species would reveal itself, but none were forthcoming. I remain homo sapien, and unfortunately, I fall prey to the same urges and shortcomings."
Penny remembered the fact that when she first met Sheldon and Leonard, they had tried to donate their sperm to a sperm bank, and she remembered what he said to Kurt about a functioning penis. "So everything works down south?"
"Pardon? I do not follow your vernacular."
"You know, the southern part of your body between your legs…" she trailed off, unsure. "Your groin area…"
She smiled at the bluntness, still slightly surprised despite herself. "Yeah. You said it was fully-functioning earlier. That means you're a guy. You're human, no matter how… superior, I guess."
"Unfortunately. I should be more, but Nature's miracles often have drawbacks. While I have my genius intellect, it fails to impede the urge to extend my bloodline in the hope of siring genii to establish a dynasty like Bernoulli, Bach, Huxley, and Tolkien."
Penny's jaw dropped. "What?"
Sheldon's eyebrows furrowed. "They, too, were genii like myself. They founded intellectual dynasties- "
She shook her head, interrupting, "No, I- I got that part. It just surprised me, that's all." Something suddenly occurred to her. "Wait. Is that why you tried to donate your sperm?"
"Fascinating," he commented, staring at her with those blue eyes. "You possess a striking talent to, colloquially, connect the dots. You are more intelligent than I had initially believed. Although, such an observation is unneeded. While you are much inferior to my intellect, you are clearly above-average."
Penny, stunned, didn't know how to feel about that. "Um… thanks, but what are you talking about?"
"The fact that we are able to communicate attests to your intelligence," he explained as calmly as if he were talking about the weather. But to him, she began to realize, these complex things were as simple as talking about the weather. Maybe even simpler. "Miscommunication is prevalent among those of differing I.Q. ranges. We have shared conversations, and while you are no genius, you are much more than a 'dumb blonde,' Penny."
A brief prickling in her eyes appeared. That might have been the nicest compliment she had ever received, for she was so used to hearing the comparison to Barbie. The fact that a genius like Sheldon - no, Dr. Sheldon Cooper - believed in her that much made her want to punch her past self for being so concerned with the guys like Kurt.
Forcing herself to not hug him, knowing it would ruin any sort of progress she had made in simply talking to him, Penny gestured to the wine glass. "I didn't know you drank wine. By the way, what kind of wine is it? It doesn't look like the kind I drink."
"A 1985 Château Cheval Blanc."
Penny's jaw dropped. "What? Yo- you have that?"
"It was part of my compensation for completing one of my lectures."
She found it quite easy to wrap her mind around that. While she didn't really understand why Sheldon and Leonard lived in her building if they were so smart and gifted, working at CalTech, they knew people who lived in the elite lifestyle. As such, they could receive gifts such as a 1985 Château Cheval Blanc.
"Then are… are you drinking because of what Kurt said?" she asked gently. "About you being a virgin?"
Sheldon looked at her as if she were insane. To him, she might have been. "Of course not. I fail to understand how the attainment of coitus is a measure of a man's worth. It should not be. Before adolescence, I was already more accomplished than Kurt or any man like him will ever be."
"Because you went to college when you were eleven…" Penny whispered, finally realizing how insane that was. Eleven-years-old? She couldn't even imagine how his mind worked to be able to do that. "Then, if you don't mind, why… are you drinking, Sheldon?"
He twitched. "Normally, I would refuse to answer, but the wine has already lowered my inhibitions."
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to," she said quickly, trying not to force him. "I understand."
Sheldon peered at her. "How would you understand? I have yet to answer your question."
Penny blinked. "No, I meant… I meant I understand if you don't want to answer my question."
"Interestingly, I find myself yearning to answer it," he responded, staring at the empty wine glass. "It must be the alcohol. I have never conversed while intoxicated, so this is a new experience."
She laughed, unable to help herself. "There's no way in hell you're intoxicated. You're not drunk off your ass or anything. You're just… feeling the effects. You still sound smarter than anyone I've ever met."
Sheldon nodded. "Perhaps. But I consume the wine for those same effects; it dulls my senses, mind, and memory. It is hard to rest when the brain itself refuses to rest." Penny no longer felt like laughing. "I feel beyond grateful to the genetic mutation and chromosomal alignment that resulted in my perfect recall and genius intellect, but there are… impediments."
"Is that why you weren't able to fall asleep?"
"Partly, but it is more complex. When I engaged that simpleton in a battle of wits, it was from the result of a flashback."
Penny had a terrible feeling. "Flashback?"
"My father abused my mother when I was a child," he explained calmly, but the twitch of his fingers indicated his true emotions. "When Kurt grabbed you, I remembered memories I tried to force myself to forget. I felt angry, and it inspired me to combat your ex-boyfriend."
She stared at him, sifting through everything she was feeling. "Thank you, Sheldon. No one's ever done that for me before. And I'm sorry that… your mom was abused by your dad." She clenched her fists, realizing something, and felt her eyes well with tears. "And I'm sorry that I invited you to the party, making you remember such a horrible memory and then causing you not to be able to sleep, leading you to drink to deal with the pain. It's a- a fucked up butterfly effect."
Sheldon stared at her. "Your analysis operates under a false perception."
Penny angrily wiped away her stray tears. "What false… perception?"
"That I experience peaceful REM cycles every night."
Her eyes widened. "You mean…?"
"With perfect recall, there is no consistent rest. Everything is there. All of my experiences. My joys and shortcomings. My failures. My pain."
"So you… drink a lot?"
"Only when I feel overwhelmed, which is not often." Sheldon's fingers danced across the keys on the keyboard, hovering but not pressing. "I had promised my mother when I went to college that I would never consume drugs, but I failed." His head turned to look down the hallway. "Leonard's coital engagement with one of your female friends also produced noise unpleasant to my ears."
She ignored the part about Leonard, recognizing it as an unconscious deflecting mechanism. "Sweetie, I'm sure that your mom would understand- "
"I made a choice," he interrupted, turning back to face her; his blue eyes looked far away. "The choice I made to consume alcohol to 'deal with the pain' is not a new one; it has been made before by many men, including my father. Unfortunately, I subscribe to the adage 'like father, like son.' My mother would fail to follow my reasoning. My father's dependency on alcohol desecrated their marriage and eventually killed him."
Penny bit her lip, thinking. "Well… don't you have siblings or something? Someone you can talk to?"
"I have a twin sister and an older brother, both of whom are vastly inferior to myself."
"But I'm inferior, aren't I?" she asked, remembering his earlier words, but she realized that Sheldon thought everyone was inferior because technically, in terms of intelligence and education, they were. "Yet, here we are. You're talking to me."
Sheldon frowned. "The wine has lowered my inhibitions. Also, while my brother is not a pillar of the negative facets of testosterone as embodied by your ex-boyfriend, he bears a resemblance. Missy would- "
"Your twin sister?"
"Yes," he answered absentmindedly. "Missy would feel angry and invoke my mother and Meemaw's presence, an unacceptable outcome."
"And Meemaw is who? Your grandma?"
"Whom," he corrected, but his blue eyes gleamed with intriguing interest. "Your talent to connect dots is remarkable."
She waved him off, not wanting to get distracted by her pride. "Yeah, I know. But would it be so hard to talk to your brother and sister? I mean, don't you love them?"
Sheldon tilted his head. "I feel affection, for they are of my blood, but they have always failed to follow my reasoning. They always will."
"That's pretty pessimistic," she pointed out. "How do you know that?"
"Based on the pattern of my life- "
"But people change," she interrupted, waving her hand. "I mean, you like science, so isn't that thing about evolution about someone changing to become someone else? What about that stuff about adaptations?"
Sheldon blinked. "Perhaps my thinking has been operating under a false perception, as well."
Penny sat taller, feeling proud. "See? Maybe you can talk to them, or maybe not. You were talking about choices or whatever earlier. Well, this is one of your choices." She leaned forward, holding his piercing gaze. "And let me tell you, the choice of whether or not to talk and be honest with your siblings has been made before, too."
He nodded in consideration. "By you?"
She froze before nodding herself. "It has to do more with my parents, actually, but yeah. I made a choice like you did. I mean, it has to do more with my mom; I blame her for a lot of things. I'm sure you have some things you blame your mom about."
"It irritates me that my siblings are listed first alphabetically despite my blatant superiority. I blame my mother."
Penny grinned. That was so Sheldon. "Well, it's your choice. I can talk your ear off about it, but you're going to do what you think is best. And if not your brother or sister, what about Leonard? I mean, you guys are friends, right?"
"We signed a Roommate Agreement."
Her brows furrowed. "You mean… a contract?"
She found that he had to make a friendship contract pretty heartbreaking, but she understood because the contracts, to Sheldon, were like Mozart's music: perfect and structured. It was how he was able to deal with things complicated to him - and for him, people were super complicated.
"So, since you guys are friends, couldn't you talk to him?"
"I fail to see how that would accomplish anything."
Penny rolled her eyes. "Guys are so weird. You hate to talk about your feelings or anything with each other."
Sheldon held her inquiring, narrowed gaze. "Leonard and I have agreed to never discuss emotional subjects."
"That's exactly what I'm talking about," she muttered, sweeping some stray hair out of her eyes. "In all my life, I can't remember when any guys I know have talked about their feelings. It's like they're afraid they'll catch the plague or something. And I know my memory is good. There's not a moment where I've ever seen guys really say something emotional to each other."
"How powerful is your memory?"
Penny shrugged. "I think it's good. It's worked for me all my life. I remember stuff, you know?"
He tilted his head. "What is your first memory?"
"My first memory?" she echoed before considering. "Well, I don't know. The- there's no beginning, really. I don't know where it starts or anything. I can't pinpoint it. What I remember is just there. You know?"
"I remember everything."
Penny nodded. "That's right. You said that earlier. Yo- you have… what did you call it? A photographic memory?"
"Eidetic memory. Perfect recall."
"So when you say you remember everything, you remember… everything?"
She realized that wasn't a good thing when truly thinking about it; it was a blessing and a curse.
"Then… what's your first memory? Do you know?"
Sheldon looked insulted. "Of course. I was an infant watching the Dallas Cowboys play football with my father and brother. I was held in my father's arms."
Penny smiled. "Your dad liked football?"
"His affection for football was surpassed only by his fondness for alcohol."
Her smile slipped from her face. "I'm sorry."
Sheldon's brows furrowed. "Why do you apologize? My father's dependency on alcohol was- "
Penny interrupted, "Because it's the right thing to do. While I don't know how that feels, to have an alcoholic for a dad, I'm… empathizing with you. I'm sorry that your dad was a monster."
"My father was not a monster," Sheldon said, frowning. "Only alcohol evoked his latent violence."
"So… what? You liked your dad?"
"As a child, I felt a sense of awe regarding my father," he murmured and she knew that he was remembering his childhood. He was remembering everything. "I have yet to encounter a single man who has never felt the same."
Penny nodded. "All guys wanna be like their dad. I think that's how it works. When they realize their dad isn't perfect, it's painful."
"When I learned of my father's inferior intelligence, how it failed to match my own, I wept. In my desperation, I attempted to construct a device to amplify his mental aptitude, but I miscalculated. It was a failure. I was five-years-old."
She bit her lip, inwardly amazed at what a child Sheldon was capable of. "I'm sorry."
"You are attempting to empathize?"
Sheldon looked proud of himself before his fingers twitched; he looked unsure. "I am unfamiliar with these social protocols. No one of my peerages displays kindness to me, not in the way you have."
She found that super heartbreaking, but she smiled. "Well, I'll keep doing it. I'm sure we'll piss each other off, but we'll be okay. I mean, you standing up to Kurt was the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me. You're a good guy, Sheldon, and you deserve kindness. I think everyone does. Well, maybe not Kurt. But I wish your… peers were kind to you."
"As a child, I was not similar to Gig and Missy, both of whom quickly connected with their peers," Sheldon admitted and she sat, listening. "I failed to understand it. My father issued advice when I demanded to know why all of the other children in school abhorred my presence despite my best attempts to 'make friends' as my mother desired." Penny's eyes widened, wanting to hear the advice. "He said that they abhorred my presence because they feared me, for I was different, and regardless of anything I could do, 'different scares people.'" Her eyes welled with tears, knowing exactly how cruel children could be, especially to those who didn't fit into the crowd. "I desperately sought to connect with my peers, but I desisted from all of my efforts when they only assaulted me. I turned my attention away from people to the universe. I made a choice."
"Because if you could understand the universe, then you could learn how to understand people," she whispered.
"Affirmative." His voice didn't carry authority; it was soft like hers. "I despise paradoxes, but surrounding my memory of my father exists a paradox. I loathe how he depended on alcohol and treated my mother, but I feel grateful for his lucid advice regarding people and his desire to teach me."
Penny smiled sadly. "People are complicated, Sheldon, and that means their legacies are complicated, too. Nobody's perfect." She saw his mouth open and immediately knew what he was going to say. "While maybe you're superior, you're not perfect, either. No one is. You said you hate paradoxes. Well, someone being perfect is a paradox because then they wouldn't be human, and you already said that you're homo sapien like the rest of us."
Sheldon frowned, looking sullen. "To my uttermost woe."
"Maybe you should try to be an actor," she said, laughing slightly. "You're so dramatic."
"How can you suggest that?" Sheldon looked horrified. "Are you aware of the copious amount of- "
"It was a joke, sweetie," she interrupted. "I wanna ask you something, okay?"
Sheldon nodded, eyes interested.
She inhaled slowly. "Was the flashback the only reason you stood up for me, or did you mean that chivalry stuff?"
"The classical representations in literature set the precedent. I acted upon it."
Penny considered him. "There wasn't… another reason?"
"I do not follow."
Well, she knew he would be able to follow bluntness. "Do you think I'm beautiful?"
"You are visually appealing," he replied calmly, staring at her just as easily as he had been before.
"So, did you stand up for me because you think I'm beautiful?" She leaned forward. "Because you like me?"
Sheldon nodded. "Affirmative. The combination of your physical appeal, my flashback-inducing anger, and the fact that you have reminded me of my mother and sister provoked my intervention. While your presence in my life has been a disruption, it has not been unbearable."
Penny was beginning to like his bluntness; it made things so much easier. "Are you wanting to date me? I mean, I heard what you said to Kurt, but you didn't really answer his question. You… kind of avoided it."
He twitched. "I have dedicated my life to science; it is my true mistress."
"Then how are you going to get that dynasty you were talking about?"
"Via the donation of my sperm." Sheldon looked proud, blue eyes gleaming at her. "I have conducted a series of simulations to ensure the perfect outcome. My progeny shall grow to influence the world for generations to come, and as a result of donating my sperm, I will not need to sacrifice my work to raise them."
She was quiet for several moments. "But it's not just nature, right? Nurture plays a role in… growing up. In development. What if you sired geniuses- "
"- but they didn't have the guidance that only you could give them?" Penny questioned, pleased when he tilted his head in consideration, clearing thinking over her words. "I mean, it takes a genius to know a genius, right? A prodigy to know a prodigy? How would your genius-prodigy children be able to learn properly or whatever if you weren't there to teach them?"
Sheldon's eyes widened. "They must have proper guidance, which only I, as the superior progenitor, can provide," he breathed out, staring at her in wonder. "Guiding them would provide more ingresses through which success can be attained. The probability of my progeny and their descendants achieving eminence is as great as the success which I could obtain in my own lifetime. It is a mere matter of statistical probability." Penny tried to keep up, but all she understood was that Sheldon was staring at her in awe. "Incredible. Colloquially, you see things that I do not. It is most impressive."
Penny preened, basking in the praise. "I'm not a genius, but I'm not a dummy, either."
"Clearly not. After all, you have chosen me, the rational choice, to father your young."
Her eyes widened, almost sure she had misheard. "Wait. What?"
"You have chosen me, the rational choice, to father your young."
Nope. She hadn't misheard.
She raised her brows in surprise, wondering where she had gotten lost in the conversation; she tried to regain control, steer it back to what she wanted. "You're moving way too fast. Tha- that would only happen if we date and we get married or something. You know that, don't you?"
"You propositioned me."
Penny thought back. "Well… did I? I don't…" she trailed off because it was possible knowing her track record. Had she? She remembered talking about the dynasty thing, but did she say something else? She wished she had Sheldon's perfect memory for just a moment before waving it all away. "Look, Sheldon, are you wanting to date me?"
"It is a possibility for which I had never accounted. I believe that you would be more than suitable to mother my progeny. You possess the necessary traits. Based on the mental calculations I have conducted in the past minutes, you are the ideal candidate."
Amazed, Penny closed her eyes; she needed to get control of the conversation back. "Well, that would only be if we date and reach that point. I mean, I don't think I'd be opposed to it. But we'd need to date first, you know? We have to decide. Both of us. And I'm only twenty-two; there's time to decide. It'd be a long way."
Sheldon blinked. "I am the superior choice. Why must you need more data?"
Penny controlled the brief laugh that wanted to escape. "You're moving too fast and dating is what people do, Sheldon, and unfortunately, you're people just like me. Don't worry. I'll teach you. I mean, how else are we going to learn more about each other? To learn if we're… compatible?"
"I can compose a series of questionnaires and experim- "
"No," she stressed. "That's not happening."
Was she really going to try to go out with Sheldon? Sure, she found him attractive more than any other guy right now, and she was aware enough to recognize that she was overcompensating, picking a guy that is an utter opposite to the asshole that Kurt will always be, but she wanted a good guy, a smart one who wouldn't treat her like shit. One who would clearly be loyal and stick up for her if she ever needed it. She was sick of having terrible taste in guys; she wanted to stop being the dumb blonde who slept with all of the assholes.
If Kurt and all of her other boyfriends were considered 'normal,' then maybe she needed some crazy - and Sheldon definitely fit that bill.
"Look, Sheldon, I like you," she stated bluntly. Yep. She was going for it. Why not? If Sheldon had been willing to stand up to Kurt for her when he hardly knew her when no one else was willing to, including her so-called friends and Leonard, he would never treat her like Kurt and her prior boyfriends had. "As in, I find you attractive. If we're going to learn things about each other, it has to be through my way."
Sheldon blinked. "In your vernacular, that would be what?"
"Going on dates, talking like we've been talking so far, arguing, helping each other with problems."
"Is that how you conducted yourself with Kurt?"
Penny sighed. "Besides the arguing, no. This is actually kind of new territory for me, too. I mean, although I lived with Kurt and moved to California with him, I was a stupid girl who didn't know what she was doing. Now I do, and with you, if we're going to be anything, I want to get it right. For both our sakes."
"Interesting," Sheldon mused. "You recognize that I am superior to any prior mates, for you do not want any potential relationship between us to fail. Your intelligence clearly surpasses that of what I had assumed. Would you consider taking an I.Q. test?"
She ignored his request. "Kurt's an asshole, a big, hairy one; he cheated on me and made my life miserable. He deserves everything coming."
Sheldon peered at her. "Meaning?"
Penny grinned. "I'll tell everyone that he's hung like a light switch."
"I do not understand your vernacular."
"Well… how would I say it in your vernacular? His penis is small." Her eyes widened, a smile tugging at her lips. "Oh, wait. I got something better! Kurt has not been favorably endowed by Nature."
"An inferior specimen," Sheldon concluded, nodding at her appraisingly. "Well said. Thus, Kurt shall fail to reproduce and punish society with his intellect-atrophied progeny."
The way he kept referring to children as progeny reminded her of something. "This is going fast, and who knows if it will work out, but if this all does work out, we're going to… do it the natural way, okay? Not in a lab or anything. To have kids, you're not just gonna give me your sperm. We're gonna play equal parts in the lust-and-thrust. I'm putting that on the table now if we reach that point. Because I have needs, and clearly, you do, too."
Sheldon stiffened, outrage shining in his eyes. "Are you aware of the copious amount of pathogens that can be transmitted- "
She raised a brow. "If you live in a bubble, afraid of germs, aren't you… proving yourself inferior?"
He froze. "What?"
Penny shrugged carelessly. "I mean, a superior guy wouldn't be afraid of simple germs." She delighted in his bulging eyes, the jaw jerking with tension and indignation, but she kept going; surely she could make him see it from her angle. "If I remember anything from those high school science classes, it's that our bodies need germs to make antibodies. No antibodies mean that a gust of wind could kill you or something. I mean, I get wanting to have hygiene and stuff, and I'm not saying to just go dive into a landfill or anything, but since people have been having sex and children since forever, wouldn't we be extinct if germs were such a big deal?"
Sheldon twitched so hard she was afraid he gave himself a concussion. "Your logic is flawed, but in my intoxicated state, I am unable to rebut your egregious assertion."
"Look, I'm just saying that if we start dating, I'm going to burst your bubble," she murmured gently. "You can do whatever you want when I'm not around, but I expect certain things, which includes sex and all that stuff, you know? Just like you expect certain things. I mean it when I say I don't want to mess this up if it goes anywhere, proves to be an awesome thing, Sheldon. We gotta make compromises if it's gonna work. That much I do know."
"I am not aware of social protocol regarding dating."
"Then we'll take it slow. One day and date at a time, okay?"
"My work is of crucial importance," he stressed, staring at her; she calmly met his intense gaze. "I will decipher the mysteries- "
"I know, and there will be no stopping you," she interrupted with a smile. "I heard what you said to Kurt about your name lasting through history or whatever. Like, with Newton and Einstein and those other guys."
"Galileo, Planck, Bohr, Schrödinger, and Feynman," he recalled.
"Yeah, them. The point is, Sheldon, if I'm gonna understand anything genius-like, it'll be Shakespeare and that's it, you know? I'm never really going to understand your work, but I think you can do it. I think you'll get that Nobel Prize. I believe you. And I believe that you're the smartest guy I'll ever meet."
"So, it's okay if we're not the same and don't always have the same interests. Then it'd get boring. We'll be more yin and yang, you know? Balance each other out. Don't get me wrong, we're gonna fight and argue, but I think that even if we don't date, we'd still do that." Penny hesitantly reached out and grabbed Sheldon's forearm, waiting for his tenseness to fade; it did after several moments. "I won't take away from your work because I realize how important it is to you, but I also have things that are important to me, okay? If we date, if it's going to work, we have to realize that. Both of us. It takes two to tango."
"My mother is fond of that colloquialism."
"It's a good one, but do you understand what I'm saying?"
"You speak of reciprocity," Sheldon mused, quiet for several moments. "You have submitted a persuasive contention. Very well. You shall be my mistress."
Penny stared at him, removing her hand from his forearm, wanting him to understand. "Girlfriend, Sheldon."
He frowned. "Wha- "
"Girlfriend," she corrected firmly. "I'll be your girlfriend, okay? You may be a genius with all the science and math stuff, but when it comes to people and - what did you call it? - social protocols, I'm the genius."
Sheldon's eyes lit up. "Our progeny- "
"Children," she corrected firmly again; she was going to nip it in the bud. "When you say progeny, it sounds… cold. Clinical."
"Very well. Our… children will change the world. The union of our genetic codes, although mine is superior, will produce genii."
Penny smiled, kind of blown away at those expectations, but if this whole dating thing with Sheldon worked out, she'd have plenty of time to temper those expectations. At least everything was being put on the table; it was actually nice. There weren't any games; it was all laid out. She was starting to see why Sheldon liked the structure and orderly thing, but hopefully, she'd be able to bring him out of that shell a little bit. And if not, that would be okay, too. Although, who knows how she'd feel when they were fighting?
"Well, maybe," she said slowly. "But not if their daddy changes the world first. And remember, this isn't a sure thing, Sheldon; it's not set in stone."
"Are you referring to Disney's animated film, The Sword in the Stone, which is based on the legend of King Arthur?"
Penny blinked. "Wha- no. I'm just saying, nothing's a sure thing. I'm sure there's a science term for it, but I don't know what it is. I'm not having kids right now, no matter who's kids they are, okay? I'm only twenty-two. We'll reach that point later on. There's plenty of time. Plus, that way, you'd have more time for your work and stuff."
"Thus, you will have time to pursue your career as an actress, as well," he concluded, nodding. "I understand. You wish to wait several years before bearing children, for your fertile beauty will remain illuminating for, statistically, a dozen more years."
That was one way of putting it. "Yes. We're just going to date for now."
"Would this, our encounter tonight, be considered a date, then?"
Penny shrugged, not going to pressure him. "It can be if you want it to. I mean, we've been talking and it's been really, really nice, but- "
She glanced at the empty glass of wine. "Are you going to remember any of this? I know you have a perfect memory, but you said the wine… dulls your memory."
"I will remember." Sheldon picked up his keyboard and moved it to the side of the couch before turning back to her, a hopeful gleam in his eyes. "Since my schedule has been hopelessly disrupted, I offer a proposal to continue this date."
Pleasantly surprised, Penny leaned forward. "I'm all ears."
"Penny, do you feel a desire to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark with me?"
She grinned. "A young Harrison Ford? Yes, please."
That's it. I hope that you all enjoyed it.