DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended.
WORD COUNT: 2,400
EVERLASTING THANKS TO: gingetsu, hakkai_duo, kryptocow and rightxhere for joining Team BBT Awesome and donating to UNICEF to help the people of Haiti. It's never too late to donate to the Paradox fund to help Haiti!
NOTE: This is the fourth in a series that includes Crossing the Line, Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza and Seven times Leonard doesn't suspect anything is going on with Sheldon and Penny and one time he does. It probably won't make too much sense unless you've at least read the second and third stories. Also, this was meant to be a story from the POV of all five major characters but Leonard got a little chatty. He does that.
He heads west. He'll just walk and walk and walk until he reaches the Pacific Ocean. And then maybe he'll jump in the surf and let the tide wash him away.
Seriously, how stupid is he? How did he ignore all the signs (oh, how hindsight is 20/20, even when one is myopic) that Penny and Sheldon had gotten involved?
a) The turtlenecks and the scarves. Hello, matching hickeys!
b) The singing in the shower. Only one thing can make a non-singing man sing ridiculous songs while showering and it begins with an s and ends with an x. Of all people, Leonard should understand that one.
c) Penny's sudden change in attitude.. This is probably the one that burns the most. Here Leonard was going around, all smug and thinking that Penny was warming up to him again, that she was constantly hanging around their apartment because she wanted to be around him. And it was Sheldon all this time. Sheldon. Ouch. She never wanted to get back together with Leonard. Not at all.
d) Sheldon's weird question about multiple orgasms. Leonard can't even properly unpack this thought because it most likely means that Penny's been having multiple orgasms with Sheldon. He nearly gets run over by a truck crossing the street as he wracks his brain, trying to remember if Penny ever had multiple orgasms with him. And every time he goes over each and every time the two of them had sex, the humiliating truth rings through his brain—the answer is no. No, she didn't.
e) The fire alarm. Seriously, for a supposed genius, how much of a dumbass can Leonard be? When he ran out of the apartment, the front door was locked. And Sheldon was already out in the hallway. With Penny. In his underwear. Gee, Leonard, he sardonically asks himself, where do you think Sheldon slept that night? If they even got any sleeping done that night, what with all the multiple orgasms going on.
f) The panties under the sofa cushion. Yeah, Leonard totally didn't remove those panties. Sheldon did. Or Penny did, under Sheldon's supervision. Clearly, having sex on the couch is a favorite pastime of theirs.
g) What Raj saw in front of the comic book store. Yeah, Sheldon wasn't removing gum from Penny's hair at all. Or giving her any kind of mouth-to-mouth except for the kind that frequently ends up producing babies.
"I'm the King of Rationalization," Leonard mutters to himself, which causes a woman walking down the sidewalk with a golden retriever on a leash to look at him as if he's lost his damn mind. And for all he knows, he has.
How did he not figure it out until it was, quite literally, in front of his eyes? Leonard wishes that the Dollhouse existed in real life so he could lie in their nice dentist's chair and permanently wipe his mind of the memory of Penny and Sheldon having sex on the couch.
He sees it over and over again. His brain can't turn it off.
This is bad. Really bad.
Finally, Leonard feels like he's developing blisters and reluctantly heads for home. Why didn't he think to grab his car keys before he stormed out of the apartment?
He slowly opens the door, fearful of what he'll find this time. He finds Sheldon sitting at his computer. Mercy of mercies, he's fully dressed. Penny is nowhere in sight.
"Hey," Leonard says.
"Hello," says Sheldon, as if nothing happened and Leonard didn't walk in on Sheldon and Penny having loud, athletic sex on their sofa earlier this morning.
Leonard stands in the middle of the room, rocking on his heels, his hands shoved in the pockets of his pants. "Can we talk about what happened this morning?"
"If you'd like." Sheldon looks up from his laptop, his face bland.
"Okay. What happened this morning?"
"It's fairly self-explanatory, Leonard. Penny and I were engaging in a sexual act on the sofa and, regrettably, you inadvertently walked in on us."
"See, that's where I get tripped up. You and Penny on the couch? Having sex? How did this happen?" Leonard hears his voice going up at least an octave.
"Penny came over for some coffee, we realized that you wouldn't return for at least an hour and we mutually decided to have sex."
"Sheldon, stop being so dense! That's not what I'm talking about! You and Penny—what? When? Why? How?"
Sheldon's blue eyes are icy. "Why do you find it so hard to comprehend that Penny and I could be involved?"
Leonard has to quell the urge to throw something large and heavy. The TV, perhaps. "Because it's Penny. And it's you. And I just don't see where the intersect is."
Sheldon stands up. "To rephrase my last question—why is it so hard to comprehend that Penny might be interested in me?"
"Because," Leonard sighs. "Because it doesn't make any sense."
"Am I such a freak that you can't possibly imagine that any woman could take notice of me? Find me sexually attractive?" Sheldon purses his lips.
Yeah, kind of, Leonard thinks, but he has the good sense not to actually say the words.
On the other hand, looking at it with a semi-objective eye, he can see how a woman might find Sheldon attractive, in a strange sort of way. He's tall, and research (both scientific and Leonard's personal research, otherwise known as trying to find a girlfriend) has certainly proven that women prefer tall men as their mates. Natural selection at work. Leonard doesn't spend a lot of time dwelling on it, but Sheldon's fairly handsome. And while Sheldon dresses like a kindergartner with ADHD and a passion for comic books and dinosaurs, some women might like that quirky style.
Sheldon continues, "Because plenty of women have expressed interest in me over the years, Leonard. Probably more than have ever expressed interest in you, although I've never bothered to keep count of such a pathetically low number."
"That's exactly it! Sure, some women have been interested in you, but you've never been interested in them. You've never expressed any interest in any sort of relationship ever. We all thought you were completely asexual."
Sheldon nods, as if conceding the point. "Yes, that's true. I never believed I wanted or needed a woman in my life, but I'm making a rare exception for Penny. As you well know, Penny is extraordinary in many ways."
"Don't even, Sheldon," Leonard mutters. He does not want to hear about it. He already had to see it with his own eyes and that was bad enough.
"And as for the asexual part of your argument, I am not and have never been asexual. Just because I don't spend the better portion of my day bloviating about how certain women are hot and how I'd like to have casual sexual relations with them like you and Howard and Raj do doesn't mean I'm not a sexual person."
"Whatever," Leonard says, waving his hand as if it'll shut Sheldon up. "I just think it's really uncool that you stole my ex-girlfriend. You broke the Guy Code."
"The Guy Code?" Sheldon crosses his arms at his chest. "Where is this Guy Code? What body of government ratified it? Because I've never heard of such a code, nor have I had the opportunity to read it."
"Jesus, Sheldon, quit being so damn literal. Everyone knows that you don't steal another guy's girlfriend, ex or not."
"It's impossible to steal something when it doesn't belong to you anymore," Sheldon says.
Leonard has never seen Sheldon look so angry, not even after he discovered that the guys had fabricated his research in the Arctic. Sheldon's anger that time was a sort of sad, resigned anger. This is pure, white-hot indignation.
"And furthermore, Penny doesn't 'belong' to anyone. She's an autonomous entity in her own right and she has the freedom to make her own decisions. But for the record, Penny chose me, not the other way around. She made the first move. And since it was more than a month after she broke up with you, she had every right to do so."
Of course she made the first move, Leonard thinks. Of course she did. He feels an irate flush creep up into his face and he has to fight the urge to say something incredibly cutting and cruel, if only he could think up something cutting and cruel enough.
"Whatever," Leonard finally says. "She's all yours. Enjoy." He begins stalking off to his bedroom and stops a few paces down the hallway. "Just don't fuck on the couch anymore, okay?" he shouts over his shoulder.
"Don't use such a contemptible word to describe—" Sheldon starts to say.
"Shut up, Sheldon." Leonard goes into his room and slams the door.
He spends the rest of the day sulking in his bedroom, besides a few furtive trips to the bathroom and to raid the fridge. Sheldon doesn't seem to be home. He's probably fucking Penny again, Leonard thinks, curling up on his bed with his battered copy of Stranger in a Strange Land.
At 6:46 pm, there's a knock on his bedroom door.
"Go away, Sheldon," he calls out.
The door opens and Penny's head peeks in. "Hi, Leonard!" she says brightly.
He looks back down at his book and doesn't say anything. Maybe if he pretends Penny doesn't exist she'll go away.
She clears her throat. "Hi, Leonard!" she says, louder this time.
"Hi, yourself," he grudgingly says. "Are we supposed to have a big talk now?"
She walks in the room. "If you want. But I really came over because I have a big bag full of Chinese food and the Chuck season three DVDs."
Leonard sits up. "So, we're just supposed to act like everything's normal and I didn't just happen to see you and Sheldon fucking on the couch?"
Penny winces. "I'm really sorry about that. That wasn't supposed to happen."
"Oh, yeah?" Leonard walks over to his dresser, opens a drawer and retrieves a scrap of red silk. He tosses it to Penny. "Then what about this little item I found under the couch cushions a few weeks ago? It would seem that it happens on our couch on a regular basis."
At least she has the decency to turn red. "I wondered where these went," she says.
Leonard glares at her.
She sits down on the bed. "Listen, Leonard, I am really sorry. That was a really shitty way for you to find out."
Leonard sits down at a safe distance from her. "Were you ever planning on telling me?"
She shrugs. "We'd never really discussed it one way or another."
"When did it start?"
"In Fresno," she says, picking at her cuticles. Leonard hates it when she does that. "It's actually kind of funny. There were all these Shriners and we had to share a bed because the hotel reservation got all screwed up and then I sort of kissed him and stuff just happened. And I thought it was going to be just one time but then it happened again and again and again and it got a little out of control…"
"This isn't helping," Leonard says. He takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. "So, are you saying that the two of you are just 'friends with benefits' or is there something more?"
"I don't know yet. Maybe? I guess we're just seeing where it goes."
"Jesus, Penny. It's Sheldon."
She looks up at him, eyes flashing. "Yeah, so?"
"Do I need to go slower for you to understand? Shel-don."
"You don't give him enough credit, Leonard. Underneath all the weird stuff, he's a good guy."
Leonard has to admit that Penny's probably right. Plus, there's the whole multiple orgasm thing that Sheldon's apparently mastered.
She pats him on the shoulder. "Can we try to get back to normal? Like nothing ever happened?"
"I don't know if that's possible," he says.
"Okay, we can't pretend nothing's happened, but can't we all just be friends? I don't want this to come between you and Sheldon. Or you and me, for that matter."
Leonard would love nothing more than to continue his sulk, to stay in his room for the rest of his life, but he knows he's being a little ridiculous.
"Fine," he huffs. "I'll be the bigger man here."
"Besides, you wouldn't want to miss out on steamed dumplings. And Chuck! We missed most of last season. We can catch up!"
"I'll do it for the dumplings," he says with a tiny sigh.
Penny stands up and gives him her hand to help him up. "On behalf of Chinese dumplings and Chuck Bartowski, I thank you."
And in the end, it comes close to feeling like a normal night Chez Leonard and Sheldon.
Sheldon acts like he and Leonard never had an argument and Leonard returns the favor. They all eat greasy, not very authentic Chinese food. Penny grosses Sheldon out by shoving a chopstick in each nostril. Leonard complains about the editing of the martial arts scenes. Penny squeals when Chuck kisses Sarah, Sheldon says, "I find the romantic subplot to be implausible and superfluous," and then Penny tells him to shut it.
They end the night with a rousing game of Halo and Leonard kicks Sheldon's ass backwards and forwards for the first time in a long time. Sheldon pouts from his spot on the couch as his character blows up yet another time.
Hey, Leonard might be the bigger man, but a little revenge isn't a bad thing, either.