Fandom: The Big Bang Theory
Spoilers: set a year or so in the future after Season 2
Word Count: Part 3: 2,100 words
Disclaimer: If I owned them, I'd write Kunal Nayyar (who is adorable and Twitters Paradox members like fujiidom) into every scene.
Betas: foxtwin, fujiidom, van_el
Summary: Sheldon’s to blame. Penny’s furious. The guys are helpless. What’s a string theorist to do? Episode-style fic featuring the full cast, with a focus on Sheldon/Penny. Based on the prompt “pinkslip” from sheldon_penny‘s Fiction Friday. Awesome banner by patronuscharms.
Previously: Part 1 // Part 2
Leonard stood at the top of the first landing, calling down toward the lobby of their apartment building. “I don’t care if it was their fault with the barbeque sauce, Sheldon. It was your fault that Penny got fired!”
A mumble came from around the corner, out of Leonard’s sight. He didn’t need to hear what Sheldon had actually said to know the other physicist was making excuses.
“You have to apologize, Sheldon!”
Howard and Raj stood off to the side, watching the two roommates like they were watching a tennis match.
A little louder, Sheldon said, his voice a bit stronger, “I tried to get her job back, but that manager was simply unreasonable. With one fell swoop, he has irrevocably changed Hamburger Night.”
“You need to tell her that personally, Sheldon. No matter how hard it is to admit you were wrong.” Leonard set his face in a mask of determination. He jogged down the stairs and faced Sheldon with courage. Pointing upward, his finger shaking with adrenaline, he commanded. “Up the stairs, now!”
“But Leonard...” Sheldon whined.
“Whatever hogtying, throat punching or risk of castration there may be, you are going to face her and admit to your mistake!”
Sheldon’s face fell, and his shoulders slumped. “You have to admit she has a surprising amount of upper body strength for a girl of her stature...”
Leonard’s pointed finger and granite-like face didn’t waver.
Sheldon nodded and began to climb the stairs, one slow step at a time. Leonard followed right behind, to make sure he didn’t change his mind.
“Masterful, Leonard,” Howard commented in a low voice.
“Yeah, dude,” Raj added. “Those assertiveness DVDs are really paying off.”
Sheldon ascended the stairs like a man going to the scaffold. With each step, it seemed as if a brass choir tolled his impending doom...
Sheldon whipped his head back to give Howard a death glare. Howard tapped pause on his iPhone, with a devilish grin. “What? I thought this occasion deserved a little mood music.”
He turned to Raj and murmured, “You’d think I was playing the Requiem or something.”
The rest of the march continued on in relative silence. The procession finally reached the fourth floor, the other three trailing the condemned in solemn anticipation. Sheldon straightened his shoulders and strode to the door to meet his fate.
He knocked three times as usual, the sound overly loud in the hallway. “Penny?” Again, stronger. “Penny?” As strong as he could manage. “Penny?”
The four waited for some sort of response. A shout, an opened door, projectiles...
“I wish we had the camera set up,” Raj commented.
Howard was already prepared. “I got it, buddy.” He held up his iPhone toward the door to 4B.
There was no response.
Sheldon began his triple knock again, but Leonard inserted himself between Sheldon and the door. “Let me try,” he said.
Leonard cleared his throat. “Penny? Sheldon is here to apologize to you...”
Sheldon opened his mouth to protest, but Leonard pressed on.
“Won’t you open the door?”
“Maybe she isn’t home?” Raj wondered.
“No,” Howard said. “Her car was in the lot. And based on the heat coming from the hood, I’d estimate she’s been here 20... maybe 30 minutes.”
No one questioned Howard’s knowledge of mechanical engineering.... or stalker technique. They waited for another minute or two.
“Here, let me try.” Howard handed off his iPhone to Raj and sauntered forward. “I think I know what might draw her out.” He knocked suavely. “Penny? Come out and talk?” He waited a moment, listening for any sounds inside. “Believe me, we know how you feel. You probably want to rip his head off right now.”
Sheldon sent Howard another dirty look.
Howard ignored it. “In fact, any sort of physical violence you want to inflict on him is a-okay with me! I’d even place a bet on--”
“Howard!” Leonard cut him off.
The engineer simply shrugged. “I know it would give me an incentive...”
Sheldon’s tone could have doubled for a laser beam. “Wolowitz, while I appreciate that you associate the intensity of your dissatisfaction with your pitiful accomplishments in life with your general distaste of my pointing out of the same, I don’t think I need to remind you that Penny certainly has a capacity for physical violence that could extend to diminutive, annoying Jewish lechers as well. I could inform her of the thong incident, perhaps?”
Howard stepped forward, his face stormy. “You wouldn’t dare...”
Sheldon stepped forward as well. “Bring it.”
Leonard got between them quickly. “Do you really think that arguing in the hallway is going to convince her to come out here?”
Raj shrugged. “She might like a good nerdfight...”
Leonard shook his head sadly. “Look, guys, I’m going to try again...”
“This is futile.” Sheldon walked briskly toward his apartment door. “She is either ignoring us, or not at home. Either way, I will not be able to speak to her.” He opened the door with his key and dropped the key ring into the bowl beside the door. “She will talk to me when she is ready.” Sheldon sifted through the other keys in the bowl as he talked. “And if not, there is always the...” He trailed off, and sifted the keys again. “Where is Penny’s emergency key?”
At that moment, Penny came walking from Sheldon’s bedroom. She stalked by without comment, moving past him as if he did not exist.
“Penny!” Sheldon exclaimed. “We need to talk about what hap--”
She did not acknowledge him at all. Instead, she nodded at the other three guys. “Good evening,” she said coolly. “Raj... Howard... Leonard.”
Though they greeted her, Raj with a wave, she simply opened her door with a single key, entered her apartment, and closed it again.
“Was that her spare key?” Leonard asked, troubled.
“It appears that she has revoked our apartment visiting privileges...” Sheldon said in an odd voice. Then he froze. “She was in my...” His eyes widened to the size of satellite dishes. “Oh, sweet Jesus and his barefoot apostles!” He raced across the living room to his bedroom.
The three in the hallway watched his panic silently for a beat. Then Raj said quietly, “When he’s quoting his mother, you know it must be bad.”
An agonized shriek of horror emanated from inside 4A.
“Ohhh, it’s bad,” Howard said, pleased.
Leonard wrung his hands. “Oh. no... I have to put a stop to this now, before it turns into Penny vs. Sheldon 2: The Apocalypse.” He knocked frantically on her door. “Penny...? Penny, please. Let me in before something terrible happens...”
Another scream floated into the hallway.
More frantic knocking. “Penny!”
“Dude, what about us!” Raj asked, face tight with worry.
“You’ve got your car, right?” Howard said, already jogging toward the staircase. “Let’s head for the border and not look back!”
An almost unearthly moan was all it took to make Raj chase after his friend.
Leonard turned to watch them go, considering fleeing with them, when the door behind him suddenly opened and he was yanked inside.
Leonard put a hand over his heart to calm it. “Penny!”
She didn’t answer, opening her cabinets haphazardly and moving things about.
“Are you okay?” Leonard walked cautiously toward Penny’s kitchen island, eying her frenetic search of the cabinets with dismay. “Penny?”
“Leonard, you wouldn’t happen to have any whiskey, would you?” she asked cheerfully, completely at odds with the tenor of this evening. “I threw all of my alcohol out last summer. I mean, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, considering that I make too many bad decisions when I’m drinking, but now I could just kick myself.”
“I could check, but I don’t--”
“Silly, me, why am I even asking? I didn’t see any when I was rearranging the cereal and the silverware a few minutes ago. Unless you keep some in your bedroom or something? But why would you? That’s just silly.” She banged one cabinet shut with more force than necessary.
Leonard winced at the sound, and glanced at the door with apprehension. “I suppose I could make a run to the liquor st--”
“Oh, no, sweetie, that’s not necessary. I could probably go myself, but no matter how much I want to get crashingly drunk right now, it won’t solve anything, will it?” Her voice got more strident and she closed the rest of the cabinet doors in time with her next words. “I’d probably just do something stupid!”
“Penny...” Leonard came around the corner of the island and stretched out a comforting hand toward her. “You’re not stupid, you’re just upset...”
Penny yanked open the refrigerator next, shoving aside the few contents inside back and forth. “Not stupid, huh? What kind of idiot continues to go on audition after audition with absolutely no results! What kind of brainless airhead thinks that working at the Cheesecake Factory for three years is a perfectly respectable way to make a living?” She slammed the refrigerator door shut.
“You’ve just had a run of bad luck...”
She stalked back toward the door, shaking her finger at it like it was standing in for Sheldon. “Dr. Tall, Dark and Crazy over there doesn’t like anything different, right? Well, I never stop wishing that everything was different!” Her shoulders started to slump, and her voice got shaky. “Why did I think that this year was going to be any different than any other year...?”
Penny staggered back a few steps until she bumped into the couch. “This was... not... the way it... was supposed to go...” The tears started to flow full force then, the anger quickly draining from her as she sat.
Leonard rushed to put an arm around her. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Penny. Sheldon can be a huge jerk sometimes, but even I didn’t think he would get you fired.”
She leaned into him, her tears soaking Leonard’s sleeve. “Me either... what am I going to do about money now? I can’t keep going to auditions without a job...”
“I’ll help you find another job... heck, we’ll help you find one. I don’t care if you took a blowtorch to his things... or even got germs over every single thing he owns... Sheldon owes you that.” He reached over to pluck a tissue from a box on the coffee table and handed it to her.
She wiped her eyes with it, soaking the tissue in seconds. “Another waitressing job? Something at CalTech like a secretary or the cleaning crew? What does it matter? It will just be another dead-end job to pass the time between rejections...”
“No... of course it won’t...” Leonard comforted with all the conviction he could muster, rubbing circles on her back with his hand. “You’re bound to get discovered any day now.”
“But what if I’m not--”
Knockknockknock. “Penny...” Sheldon’s voice through the door sounded ragged and weak. Through the door, they could hear huge gasps of air. Knockknocknock. “Penny.” Weaker this time. Knockknockknock. Almost like nails scratching at the door instead.
“I can tell him to go away, if you want,” Leonard said quietly.
“No... I have to face him sometime...”
She untangled herself from Leonard’s arm and stood, sniffling loudly to clear her nose. She opened the door just as Sheldon was about to knock again, his hand poised in the air.
They looked a pair, she blotchy and red from crying, he pale and asthmatic from panic.
“Penny,” he rasped, sounding like he was on the edge of sanity. “While I fully understand how angry you are with me, there was no need to disrupt years of bagging and boarding every comic book with loving care...”
Penny sighed tiredly. “Get to the point, Sheldon. You messed up my life, I messed up yours. I consider us even.”
“Even?!” he said, his eyes going red around the rims. “Why the very number of strikes incurred by the damage done to my Flash collection alone...”
Penny guffawed, a maniacal edge to her laughter. “Strikes? Well, get this, Dr. DiMaggio. I’d like to see you try to collect on them after I go home... to Omaha.” She spun on her heel and stomped back toward her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
“Omaha?” Leonard asked in a small voice.
Sheldon cocked his head to the side with annoyance. “Distance has absolutely no effect on the strike sys...” He trailed off, finally realizing what Penny meant. “...oh.”
Next: Part 4