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Motion - chapter 1

Title: Motion - chapter 1
Fandom: Big Bang Theory
Pairing: Sheldon/Penny
Author: Lizwontcry
Spoilers: Current season.
Rating/Warnings: Teen, some language and such but nothing too mature...yet.
Disclaimer: I got nothin'.
Summary: Leonard asks Penny to take care of Sheldon for the summer while he's gone, and after spending so much time together, Sheldon and Penny's friendship is tested, questioned, and strengthened. But something surprising is happening and they can't ignore it forever.



May

After witnessing a miracle at Raj's, (he could talk to her without alcohol! After all these years!) Penny drove herself and a pouting Sheldon home. Normally Sheldon talked her ear off whenever she was driving, but on this particular night, they were both quiet. Contemplative. Perhaps even a little sad. When they got home, Penny essentially sleep-walked up the countless stairs and drifted to her apartment. Sheldon followed her, himself zombie-like, and opened his own apartment to a rare and unsettling kind of quiet he knew he may never get used to. Growing up, he had a very loud family and a very loud house. When he went to school, he lived in a noisy dorm. With Leonard around, there was always some kind of chaos surrounding the two of them. Now he was going to live by himself for almost four months, which was slightly terrifying.

Penny, however, couldn't imagine herself living with anyone, not even Leonard. She loved coming home and watching reruns of Sex and the City or Friends after a long day of enduring more Star Trek and Star Wars than anybody possibly needed or wanted to. After a double shift and another grueling, ridiculous day at the Cheesecake Factory, there was nothing she liked more than having a glass (or five) of wine and taking a long, steamy bath. But the night she dropped Leonard off, all she wanted was sleep. But she didn't cry. Penny wasn't really the kind of girl who cried over missing a boyfriend. At least she didn't used to be. Falling in love with Leonard was changing her, and sometimes she wondered if it was for the better or worse.

There was something else. A huge part of Penny was worried. She was worried that all the hard work and emotions and feelings she put into her relationship with Leonard would unravel while he was gone. Not that she wanted it to, but Penny knew a cold, hard fact about herself: distance did not make the heart grow fonder. She tried the long distance relationship thing a few times with no success. But maybe things would be different this time. After all, she did miss Leonard an awful lot when he went to the North Pole, and that was even before they were going out. But somewhere in the back of her mind, she was nervous. What if everything changed before he got back? Penny had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.

Meanwhile, looking at their empty apartments and pondering the lonely days and nights ahead of them, both Sheldon and Penny wondered if they should invite the other over. Just for one night. Just so they wouldn't be alone. It probably would have been nice, but neither of them made the effort. So in two apartments a few feet from each other, two sad people fell asleep, having no way to know that the answer to their questions were always right in front of them.

*****


Penny was sound asleep, still wearing her clothes from the night before, lost in a world of sleep and dreams and darkness. That all ended with those three damn knocks on her front door.

"Penny! Penny! Penny!"

Exactly how many times in her life was her precious sleep interrupted by this frustrating human being? Didn't he have someone else to bother this early in the morning? Her eyes tried to focus on the alarm clock next to her bed...it was only 8:15 in the morning. For a glorious moment, she pondered just ignoring Sheldon's obnoxious knocking, but this wasn't her first rodeo. He would only knock again and again, each time getting more and more desperate until he woke up the whole damn building.

She groaned and managed to force herself out of bed. Thrusting open the door, she croaked, "What the hell, Sheldon? What could you possibly want at 8:15 in the freakin' morning?"

Sheldon was holding his throat protectively, but he was in luck. She wasn't in a violent mood this particular morning.

"Penny, it's Friday morning. It's a day in which I have to work. My understanding is that you will be taking me to work."

Penny stared at him, her mouth open unattractively, completely speechless. When she finally managed to collect her thoughts, she said, "Are you kidding me, Moonpie? How, pray tell, did you come to this conclusion?"

"Penny, I have told you countless times to please refrain from calling me that. And I thought it was understood now that Leonard is not available, you will be his proxy for my ride to work."

"No. No way. You have a girlfriend, it's her responsibility now." Penny felt just a tiny bit terrible for throwing Amy under the bus like that, but it was true. Penny was not Sheldon's girlfriend, she never would be, and the woman who earned that title should be the one who drove his grown ass to work.

"As you know, Amy is working on using the SALL4 gene to fight cancer in humans. She's working with many different researchers and they're getting closer and closer to getting very good results. I don't want to bother her during this important time; I would expect the same of her if I was deeply involved in a project of my own."

Penny sighed. She was proud of her bestie for doing important work and all, but come on. "That's...great. Uh, what about Raj? Why can't he take you?"

"He lives on the other side of town; it would be rather inconvenient, don't you think?"

This made Penny chuckle. "Oh, sure, sure, inconvenient. We definitely don't want that. Well, what about Howard?"

"Howard has a different work schedule this summer, and besides, haven't you seen that man drive? I fear for my life when I'm in his car."

"Oh, and you feel perfectly safe in my car?" Sheldon shrugged. Penny knew he hated going anywhere in her car and he just wanted her to drive him because it was easier to go across the hall and annoy her.

And she didn't even bother mentioning the bus. It wasn't worth it. "Fine," she grumbled. "I have an audition in a few hours, anyway. I guess it would be good to wake up and prepare for it. BUT. I will not be doing this every single day, Sheldon. You're going to have to find someone else at least two or three days a week. I have things to do. Like sleep."

Sheldon nodded, but didn't look convinced. This was going to be a thing, wasn't it? Penny was already dreading the rest of the summer and it was just her first day without Leonard. Sighing, she put on a sweatshirt and some shorts and tiredly shoved her feet into some flip-flops.

"Well, are you coming, Shelly?"

*****


Sheldon supposed if he was going to count on Penny for rides to work and other assorted places during the summer (the train store in Malibu was having a special anniversary party in July!), he'd have to put up with her name calling and other abuses. While Penny drove him to work, looking pissed the whole way, Sheldon pondered getting an actual license and perhaps buying a car so he wouldn't have to depend on others all the time. But then he chuckled and gave himself a proper talking to about the dangers of driving a vehicle.

"What's so funny?" Penny grumbled, thankfully not bothering to look at him and instead keeping her eyes on the road.

"Oh, well, I was just noticing that your check engine light doesn't seem to be blinking today. I was chuckling to myself because you finally took my advice to take your vehicle to a professional maintenance establishment to get it repaired."

Now it was Penny's turn to chuckle. "No, actually it just burned out one day. Thanks for caring, though."

"Penny, really. I think we should take your car in for service at some point this summer, the sooner the better. I'm sure there are at least a few reputable mechanics in the greater Orange County region."

"We? You're just worried about you, Sheldon. So if it's all the same to you, I'll drive my crappy car until the wheels fall off. I can't afford it, anyway. I really need to do well at this audition today; the Factory has been cutting way down on my hours lately."

Sheldon sighed. For some reason, he didn't like the accusation that he only cared about his own well-being. Sure, he was in fact worried about that, but the idea of Penny driving a car around town until the wheels came off was truly unsettling to him. Who would take him to the comic book store if that happened? And if something terrible were to happen to her, who would sing him Soft Kitty when he got sick? He didn't dare teach Amy the song. It felt wrong, somehow. And he preferred Penny's singing voice-not that he'd ever dare tell Amy that. Even he knew that was a death sentence.

"Yes, well, if you don't do as well as anticipated for your audition, perhaps I can help you with the costs of the repair."

They had reached a red light, and Penny looked over at Sheldon, smiling slightly. He always did enjoy her smile when it was directed at him, which it so rarely ever was.

"That's very generous of you, sweetie," she said, her voice soft and vulnerable for the first time that day. "But you know I can't let you do that."

"Well, of course you can let me do that. I know you don't want to be indebted to me, but aren't we past that social norm at this point in our friendship? Your vehicle has been on the verge of a complete breakdown for what, six years now? So stop being so stubborn and let me do this for you. I'll find a way you can make it up to me."

"We'll see," Penny said, and Sheldon let it go. He now had a new goal for the summer-get Penny's car fixed. He didn't really know why he was so determined to get it fixed, but it was going to happen whether either of them liked it or not.

A few minutes later, Penny pulled up to university and stopped to let Sheldon out. "Have a good day, dear," she said. "Do I need to pick you up later?"

"Raj said he has a few errands to do on our side of town after work and he will take me home today, thank you."

Penny smiled. "Great. See you later."

She was about to drive away when Sheldon said, "Penny? Good luck on your audition."

"Aww, thank you, that really means a lot to me," she said, and gave him her comforting smile again. He watched as she drove away, wondering why a simple ride to work was somehow so satisfying.

*****


On the way home, Penny put her radio on the pop station, turned it up as loud as possible, and tried to tune out the weird feeling that was starting to creep into her thoughts. She couldn't even identify it yet; it didn't exactly have a name or a rhyme or a reason. It had something to do with Sheldon, yes, but that's all she could come up with at the moment. He was so sweet sometimes, and it always took her by surprise. Amy complained so frequently about how he wasn't giving her the attention and affection she was always craving, Penny forgot what it was like when he did actually care about something other than his work. Interesting.

At home, Penny took her time getting ready for the audition. It was for some kind of sci-fi sitcom pilot for cable, which didn't exactly sound amazing, but the premise actually did look interesting. Penny was starting to get a little desperate, actually; she'd been in California for a long time and her acting career wasn't going as planned. Being a waitress for the rest of her life didn't exactly appeal to her. Sometimes she let herself ponder moving back to Nebraska. Her sister always needed help with the kids and her mom and dad frequently commented on how she needed to visit more often. Of course she'd miss Leonard and he'd be devastated, but she couldn't keep going to audition after audition without any kind of success. All the rejection was bad for her self-esteem, not to mention her bank account.

After making herself look as hot and presentable as possible, she left an hour early for the audition and soon found herself in a room full of Penny lookalikes. She sat down and read the script over again, making sure she felt comfortable with the part.

"Penny? Please come in," said a cute dude with glasses and interesting stubble. "My name is William Bailey, I'm the writer for Starlight City. As you probably know, this is going to be kind of a nerdy show with lots of sci-fi elements, but it's funny, too. There's not a lot of stuff out there like it right now, so hopefully people will respond to it. Anyway, you're auditioning for the role of Clarissa, a babe from space with all sorts of fun powers and abilities. Eventually you and the leading man will end up together, obviously, but first we have to build Clarissa a back story. Anyway, I just rambled on way too much. Let's read these lines together, okay?"

Penny nodded, smiling. William was young and cute and anxious for a hit, and she wanted him to succeed already. They read the lines together and Penny tried her absolute hardest to impress him. The lines were easy and they got through them quickly.

When they were done, William nodded approvingly and said, "Well, that was great, Penny. You can definitely expect a call from us soon. Oh, and here's more of the script for the pilot. I guess I should tell you that your character is part robot and has some pretty intense dialogues that may be kind of difficult to digest. Do you think you can handle it?"

Penny looked through the script and her heart sank. She'd never even seen or heard of most of the weird scientific words she was supposed to say. Of course. Of course her audition would go well and of course she'd go down in flames when it came to the scientific terms. Where the hell was Leonard when she needed him?

And then a light bulb went off in her head. Leonard wasn't the only man in her life who could help her with these words, these concepts. Maybe she could work out a deal with Sheldon. She'd cart his transportation-less ass to work every day if he could do this for her.

"I could totally nail this," Penny told William. "Piece of cake."

William grinned. "Perfect. We'll call you soon to let you know when to come in next. But if you get this dialogue right, I can tell you that you've got this part in the bag."

Penny couldn't help it-she jumped up and gave him a hug. William chuckled. She thanked him and practically skipped to her car. Sure, she missed Leonard and she was still dreading the summer without him, but things were looking up. And she couldn't wait to tell Sheldon all about it.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jillianfish
Jul. 17th, 2013 01:19 pm (UTC)
Lovely first chapter. I like the way they're slowly coming together while still maintaining who they are. Almost like they know that they have to be nice to each other because they're the only ones now that Leonard is gone. Looking forward to more of this!
7gifts
Aug. 31st, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC)
The first chapter sets us for the events that are about to happen. I enjoyed seeing that beneath the snark and irritation their feelings towards each other has changed and was endearing.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )