Dasha (dashakay) wrote in secretprobation,
Dasha
dashakay
secretprobation

She Never

FANDOM: The Big Bang Theory
PAIRING: Sheldon/Penny, mention of Leonard/Penny in the past
SUMMARY: She never thought it would work out.
RATING: PG-13
SPOILERS: The Adhesive Duck Deficiency
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended.
WORD COUNT: 3,300
NOTE: Futurefic (sort of), AU (sort of), my first story in this fandom (totally). Hopefully this hasn't been done before and if it has, I apologize. Hey, ninamazing, consider this a very late birthday gift.

She never thought she'd become a geek.

Really. In high school she was on the dance team, was the lead in just about every play, graduated with a solid 3.2. She never spent a Saturday night at home, washing her hair. Junior year, three guys asked her to prom. Senior year, four asked. In the Senior Poll she won Most Talented, Best Hair, Best Body and Most Likely to Be at the Party.

But somehow, the guys sucked her into their world. Once, she played Halo 3 for eighteen hours straight. She found herself hunting down Battlestar Galactica fanfic online and sighing over the doomed love of Kara and Lee. She went to San Diego Comic-Con. Voluntarily. She turned down a date with Keith, the hottest waiter at The Cheesecake Factory, the one with a red Mustang Convertible, because she promised she'd drive Sheldon to the fabric store to pick up many yards of black fabric for his Darth Vader Halloween costume. And, in the end, she reflected that she'd probably had a better time than she would have on the date. She started eating bran cereal for breakfast after hearing the thirty-fourth lecture on the importance of colon health.

She never thought she'd date a geek.

But she did. Stop and start, stop and start with Leonard. She deserved a nice guy, one who wouldn't intentionally hurt her. Someone like Leonard, gentle and funny, who worshiped the very ground she walked on.

It didn't work. It's not because he's a geek, she thought, after they finally decided that no matter how hard they tried they'd never make a successful couple. There was just something missing there. When she kissed him, she felt remarkably little. In bed, she sometimes ended up creating a supermarket list in her head. Organic plain yogurt, a half-dozen bananas, frozen cheese enchiladas...

She wanted it to work out with Leonard. She tried. She tried hard. But there was nothing there to hold on to. In the end, he slipped from her fingers.

She never thought she wouldn't make it as an actor.

When she was in high school, she dreamed of what her life would be like five years, ten years after graduation. She'd move to Los Angeles and wait tables until her big break, which definitely would happen within a year or two. She'd get cast in a supporting role in a sitcom or a small, but juicy part in an indie film that would catch fire at the box office. She'd fall in love with a fellow actor, maybe one of her sitcom costars. A handsome guy, but really humble. They';d go to the gym together and sometimes out for sushi, dodging the unforgiving glare of the paparazzi. They'd get married after a year or so, and People would give their wedding four glossy pages, including a sidebar article on her gorgeous, custom Vera Wang dress.

None of that happened. After four years of crappy plays and failed commercial auditions, she had to sit down and reassess. She would never be the next Meryl Streep. Not even the next Jennifer Aniston. She couldn't have imagined how much that would sting.

She registered for classes at Pasadena City College. Might as well finish her Associate of Arts degree, she thought. Maybe she'd become a teacher or something. She liked children.

She never thought she'd fall for Sheldon. Sheldon!

Sheldon? Get real, sweetie. She wasn't even sure Sheldon was human being, for God's sake. His skin was as white as cream cheese and his chest was hollow. When he talked in his sleep, he recited pi to a thousand digits. He had a bowel movement at the same time every day and worse yet, he told her about it. He didn't seem to like to be touched. Everyone said he was asexual and she didn't have any reason not to believe it.

But something about Sheldon touched her at the very core of her soul, she sometimes thought, in the middle of the night when she couldn't sleep. His vulnerability, despite his outward show of pride. The way he'd stare at her quizzically as if he wasn't quite sure how she fit into his grand jigsaw puzzle of life.

He sang her to sleep with "Soft Kitty," sang with her until she slipped into a deep, Vicodin slumber. And just before everything went black as night she felt his fingers skimming across her hair.

A year or so later, long after Leonard became old history, Sheldon taught her to play Go. He was supposed to be helping her with her chemistry homework but instead he brought the Go board out. She was white and he was black. To his apparent shock, she absolutely whomped him.

"Beginner's luck," he muttered.

"Maybe I'm smarter than you think, Sheldon." She raised an eyebrow.

"I find that highly unlikely. While you undoubtedly possess a good deal of common sense, several years of close observation have indicated that you are of average intelligence, perhaps above average intelligence at best."

"Ouch," she said, staring at the black and white stones. The ironic part was that in her own circle of friends, she was the smart one. She was the one who read actual books, and not just ones recommended by Oprah or the Twilight series. Somehow she came to know more about jet propulsion than your average woman. She was writing a screenplay. She got an A on her first English paper.

Sheldon cleared his throat. "I apologize, Penny. Perhaps my words were hasty and ill-considered."

Sheldon never apologized. He was always right, at least in his mind. She pushed a black stone with the tip of her index fingernail. "If I'm so average, why do you spend so much time with me? Why do you even tolerate my presence in your group of super geniuses?"

She flicked the stone off the board. It skittered across the floor. "It's late, Sheldon. Good night." She picked up her notebook and chemistry textbook, walked out the door, across the hallway and into her apartment. She locked the door and sat down on the sofa, not really sure why she cared if Sheldon thought she was smart or not. Really, why was his all-mighty opinion of her so important?

He knocked on her door three times. She didn't answer. She just sat in the dark, breathing.

The next day, he caught her by surprise as she went out the door to get her mail.

"Penny," he said, rocking back and forth on his heels. He was wearing a lime green Dragon*Con commemorative t-shirt and a gray and red striped pair of pants.

She fought the desire to roll her eyes. Look at him, she thought, just look at him. He's a walking public service announcement for Asperger's Syndrome.

"Penny," he repeated. "Can we take a walk?"

"I don't know. It's allergy season. Are you sure your immune system can handle it?" That sounded meaner than she meant it to.

"I am sufficiently medicated to withstand the onslaught of seasonal allergic rhinitis. Take a walk with me. Please." And he gave her that look, the pleading one she knew she wouldn't be able to resist. Sometimes she called it the "Soft Kitty" look.

"Fine," she huffed and went in to grab a jacket.

Outside, it was cool but sunny. They walked down the block, Penny had to scramble to keep up with Sheldon's spider legs. "Where are we going?"

Sheldon shrugged his skinny shoulders. "I don't know."

"Then, why are we walking?"

He stopped and looked down at her, his eyes impossibly blue in the sunshine. "At the risk of sounding repetitive, I need to apologize once again. It was unfortunate that I chose to portray you as of lesser intelligence."

"It's probably true," she said. She was a dumb blonde. She got it.

"Penny, understand this. Everyone is of lesser intelligence than I. I spent the majority of the night thinking about it. I often use that fact to feel superior to the rest of the human race."

"Yes, you do."

"But in my own way, I'm painfully aware that my intelligence is scattered. I don't understand the vast majority of social interaction. My emotional intelligence, if such a thing truly exists, is underdeveloped. But yours isn't."

He looked lonely, she thought. Poor Sheldon, somehow unable to connect with the rest of humanity, missing some critical piece that allowed him to do so. "What does that mean to you?"

"What that means is that we're probably even. To cite a pithy example, I may be able to elucidate how M-theory validates my research in German, Russian, Japanse and Klingon but I can't lose a simple game of Go to one of my best friends without inadvertently hurting her feelings. Whereas you are unfamiliar with even the most basic aspects of the theory of relativity, something I innately understood at the age of six. However, you navigate the world of friendships and romantic relationships with ease. You can walk into a party, not being acquainted with a single person, and ten minutes later find yourself engaged in conversation with a congenial group. I envy that."

She was all too aware how difficult it must have been for him to admit that. Even to admit that she was one of his best friends. Sheldon didn't take friendship lightly, nor let many into his exclusive club. "Oh, Sheldon," she sighed. "You're one of my best friends, too."

That wasn't really easy for her to admit, either.

He was standing there, looming over her and for some reason his facial muscles seemed to be twitching. "Against my better judgment, for long ago I chose to renounce romantic and sexual entanglements to concentrate solely on my work, I find myself..." His voice trailed off and Penny noticed that her heart was beating rapidly.

Oh my God, she thought. Sheldon likes me. She stared at him, stunned speechless.

"I find myself..." he said, practically stammering now. "...wondering if my life and my work might possibly be enriched by deepening my understanding of human social and romantic interaction."

She couldn't help it, she started laughing.

"I'm not so sure what you find so amusing about my confession," he said.

She tried to keep a straight face, but it was impossible. "Sheldon," she said, almost gasping for air. "That's about the best pick-up line I've ever heard."

"It was said with utter sincerity."

"Oh, I know, sweetie." She touched his shoulder and he didn't flinch.

In for a penny, in for a pound, she thought. She'd always liked that expression, since it involved her first name. Why not? Why not try this one on for size?

She stood on her tiptoes, wishing she were wearing heels, not flip-flops. He met her halfway and pressed his lips to hers. They were warm and dry. To her utter shock, she felt something. Oh yes, she felt something all right as she opened her lips to his and his tongue slid into her mouth. Electricity, chemistry. Physics. Yes.

His fingers twined themselves into her hair and as the cars rushed by, she shivered.

She never thought Sheldon would be good in bed.

She'd never given it much thought. Sheldon did not equal sexual being in her brain. But if she had thought about it, she would have figured that he'd be awkward, fumbling. She remembered the few strange, contorted hugs he'd given her over the years.

It was strange how graceful he was, how he unzipped her hoodie with assured fingers and neatly folded it on the chair. Of course he'd fold her clothes after taking them off. Sheldon was still Sheldon, even in her bedroom with the candles lit and after two glasses of wine. He pulled her down to the bed and her hair formed a curtain around their faces as they kissed.

"Have you done this before?" she whispered.

"Once," he said. "With a woman on my research team my final year in graduate school. Sarah Jaworski."

She tried, and failed, to picture it. "Was it good?"

"It was ultimately unsatisfying. There was little to no emotional connection with her. Nor much of a physical one, either."

She ran her fingers down his arm, feeling goose bumps rise on his flesh. "Is this good?" Her hand found his cock, hard and long. She squeezed. Asexual, my left butt cheek, she thought with a grin.

His head tipped back and his mouth opened. "Yes, oh yes it is, indeed."

She never thought Sheldon would be good in bed, but he seemed to touch her in all the right ways. If she didn't particularly like something, he tried something new. He paid attention, she realized. He was observant. He didn't just plunge into a pre-arranged routine like so many other guys did. He did his research.

He was a good scientist.

She never thought she'd love him or that he could love her back.

She told him first, after drinking two cosmopolitans for courage at the restaurant where they were celebrating their first anniversary. She said it in the parking lot, her keys in her hand.

"I need to tell you something," she said, feeling her face getting hot. "I know you probably don't feel the same way, but I love you, Sheldon. And I just need to tell you that because if I keep it in my head it's going to explode." Her hands were shaking and she dropped the keys on the pavement.

Sheldon bent down and picked up the keys. He handed them to her. His face was very serious, but then again, it almost always was.

He grabbed her hand with his, so hard it almost hurt. "Once I thought that I had no understanding of love, particularly romantic love. I still find it mystifying because it's something I can't quantify, but for the record—I am reasonably certain I love you, too."

And she laughed and laughed there in the parking lot because he was so Sheldon and really, who could resist him? How could she not love him?

She never thought it would work out.

Because really, could there ever be two more mismatched people? But somehow it did.

She finished her A.A. at Pasadena City College and won a partial scholarship to UCLA. She majored in elementary education. She still worked three nights a week at the Cheesecake Factory and most of the other nights were spent curled up on the couch highlighting her reading assignments and making flashcards. Sheldon was often by her side, either scribbling something complicated on a legal pad or messing around on his laptop.

Leonard took it hard at first. She completely understood. But eventually he came around, especially after he met a girl named Leah. She was a biochemist and looked like a sexy librarian. She was also really good at D&D.

Sheldon drove her nuts a lot of the time. She thought it was completely psychotic that he alphabetized her spices and created a database so that she could keep track of when she needed to replace them. Sometimes he'd get so involved in his work that an air raid siren wouldn't have shaken him from his trance. They slept in the same bed most nights but he had his own bedding since he insisted on being properly cocooned while he slept.

But he told her she was beautiful (actually, he said, "You're still aesthetically appealing") even when she had food poisoning and had thrown up for six hours straight. She successfully taught him how to make appropriate small talk at departmental parties. He bought her a beautiful leather briefcase when she got her first teaching job and came to her class to explain string theory to her third-graders, who were somehow fascinated by his lecture.

After she'd taught for almost a year, they took the plunge and bought a house, a tiny Craftsman bungalow that needed a lot of work. Sheldon wasn't much good with the practical details of remodeling, but he declared himself "the conceptual partner" while she buffed the floors and painted the walls. She didn't mind, since he was the one who managed to set up the stereo system and install all the computers and the resulting network.

In the winter they lit fires in the fireplace and sometimes pretended it was snowing outside.

She never thought she'd marry him.

But she did, on a warm spring day in the garden courtyard of the Asia Pacific Museum, surrounded by flowers and koi ponds. She wore a strapless white silk dress and Sheldon wore a black suit. He'd wanted to get married in a Starfleet dress uniform but she put her foot down. "Can we just be normal on our wedding day?" she said. He pouted for a while but got over it.

Leonard was the best man and Raj was a groomsman. Howard got ordained online through the Church of Spiritual Humanism and performed the ceremony. He didn't even leer once, even though her dress was fairly low-cut. He was finally growing up, she thought. They all were. Leah had a sparkly diamond ring on her left hand.

Sheldon looked like he might burst. He was smiling and it didn't look weird at all. It looked natural and right.

"Till death do us part," she said, and everything smelled like roses and daisies.

She never thought she'd say that for Sheldon.

She never thought she'd have his child.

She was thirty-nine weeks and five days, and heartily sick of being pregnant. She was tired of peeing every hour on the hour and looking like she swallowed a large boulder. She wanted to sleep on her stomach again and to be able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.

They were still discussing names for their son.

"Pierre," Sheldon said while they were in bed.

"Pierre? Are you nuts? We're not French." She was lying on her side since she couldn't even sleep on her back anymore, for fear of compressing some vein.

"Pierre Ramond added fermions to the string theory model, which led him to formulate a two-dimensional supersymmetry to cancel the wrong-sign state. An excellent role model for any child."

She snorted. "We are not naming our kid Pierre. Can you imagine the teasing?"

"Any child of mine will most likely be teased to some extent," Sheldon said. It always made her ache to think about what it was like to grow up as Sheldon, to be so radically, completely different from all the other children.

"Not if I can help it."

"What is your latest suggestion, then?" He snapped off the lamp and curled against her back. They'd made a lot of progress over the years. He could now sleep without separate bedding and even tolerate a good deal of cuddling.

"George," she said.

"For George Clooney?"

"Maybe..."

"We are not naming our child after some actor you find appealing."

"Better an actor than a physicist, Sheldon." The disagreement over baby names was starting to annoy her.

"Perhaps it's best to wait until he arrives. He'll let us know what his name is, even though newborns are not capable of human speech."

She smiled, thinking of their baby. Sometimes she imagined that he'd emerge from her womb dressed in a Superman t-shirt and a pair of plaid pants, clutching a slide rule. "Yeah, he probably will," she said, her words slurring slightly with drowsiness.

"How are you feeling?" he asked, stroking her hair.

"Tired. Scared. Excited. Like I'll never be unpregnant again."

"Soon. It'll be soon..."

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

"Thrilled. Nervous. Vaguely nauseated at the thought of you experiencing undue amounts of pain. But most of all, I feel...I feel human to be anticipating fatherhood."

That's nice, she thought, drifting away into sleep. In the end, he's human after all.

She never thought she'd have all this. She had everything.

END
Tags: fandom: big bang theory, pairing: sheldon/penny, series: driving lessons, year: 2009
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