BY : FemmeBono
Category: 1 through F > The Big Bang Theory
Dragon prints: 7988
Disclaimer: I do not own Big Bang Theory, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Cht. 1

Gravity: n. the natural force that tends to cause physical things to move towards each other.

Penny sat wrapped in a blanket on her couch, swathed in despondence and marinated in a cheap chardonnay. Her “comfortable, boring kind of love” with Leonard had long since fizzled out, ended by Leonard himself, when he finally admitted that they simply were not meant. It started a chain reaction through their group of friends, however, that shook up the entire structure of their circle and left the pieces jumbled and in disorder.

Leonard’s life was great now. He and Dr. Stephanie had rekindled their spark, and when his things started turning up at her apartment, no one questioned it. When his Bat signal made it there, everyone knew the import, but no one mentioned it. He made a final return trip to 4A several weeks back for the rest of his belongings and terminated the roommate agreement with Sheldon. Sheldon was left having to buy four more pairs of bus pants—so he now had one for every day of the work week.

This rocked Sheldon’s world, upset his years-in-the-making routine, left him without a ride to work on a daily basis, and prompted Amy to start suggesting they move in together. When Sheldon categorically stated that he would not allow this to happen, Amy terminated the relationship agreement and blocked him on Skype, Facebook, and even her cell phone.

She started dating Stuart again, even supplying him with a new mood enhancer developed in the labs that tempered his anxiety and depression. Inside three weeks, his new demeanor sent his sales through the roof, and he was actually in the black since the first year he started the business. Instead of spending nights cooking the books and consoling himself with the neighbor’s cat, he went out ballroom dancing with Amy and they got their own cat shortly after he moved in with her. His name was O’Malley after the cat in The Aristocats (Amy’s choice, of course).

Penny’s world was off kilter now as well. So many things had changed for her since she had met the guys. She could no longer tolerate stupid men and certainly could not date them for any length of time. That was the first big change. As she started dating Leonard and hanging out with “her boys,” as she now thought of them, Penny’s other friends slowly trickled away. Strangely, she did not miss them. Not the false camaraderie, nor the drunken stupidity that always happened when they were around. No more drama from that crowd. Her paradigm had shifted, she mused and chuckled.  She now knew words like “homunculus” and “homeostasis,” and she could almost use them correctly in a sentence. Her history class had started her on a chain of core college classes. She started with a general science class and upgraded to an intro to physics course, purely to understand her boys. The teacher was way better than Sheldon—at least at teaching, anyway—and took it way slower, but she still had to study her pretty little head off way more than she wanted.

Since she weaned herself away from her vacuous friends, Penny also found herself less and less involved in trying to find the latest trends and the priciest shoes. Instead, she started budgeting and grew a bit of a nest egg. She also took a page out of Sheldon’s book and stowed away a bit of money in her favorite vase, which now sat empty on a shelf in the corner. She had not shopped in months, not even window shopping on Zappos…

Penny had delved into studying. She picked up two more classes and double shifts at the Cheesecake Factory, but her physics class just happened to be Tuesday nights, so she could not wait on the guys. She only saw Sheldon once in a while in the hallway, and he always looked as though he was on the verge of saying something, but he always kept going, simply nodding and continuing on as though they were mere acquaintances. What was up with that, she wondered each time. But she never had time to confront him.

Yet here, at nearly 8 pm on a Saturday night, she figured she might just have the chance to corner him.  True to form, Sheldon Cooper would traipse down to the laundry room at exactly eight fifteen for Laundry night and she would find out at last just why she was getting the cold shoulder from him, of all people. No sooner had she thought this, than it occurred to her that he may blame her for losing Amy. If it had not been for Penny and Leonard splitting up, there would be no vacancy in 4A…  

Penny swept through the apartment, her glass of wine forgotten on the coffee table as she scooped up tank tops and shorts, hoodies and stray socks and stuffed them in the hamper. By eight-ten she was loading a washing machine and measuring out detergent. Five minutes later she was sitting on the washer when Sheldon walked in carrying his laundry basket of pre-sorted clothes.

“Penny,” he gasped when he saw her. Penny hopped off the washer and braced herself for an onslaught of recriminations, only to find herself wrapped in the gangly awkwardness of a patented Sheldon Cooper hug. “It’s about time you’ve decided to stop this foolishness and return to the unspoken structured system that we’ve had in place for six years now.”

Penny gasped out a laugh. “Sheldon, I’ve—I’ve been busy!”

“Too busy for laundry night?” he queried. “Too busy to mooch off our dinners and spectacularly annihilate my character in Halo? Too busy even to come traipsing in and demand the Wi-Fi password?”

“Well…yeah, actually,” she replied. “Besides, I sort of got my own Wi-Fi now.”

Penny tried to figure out why exactly she felt guilty about this, and why Sheldon looked almost hurt that she would do such a thing.

“And what exactly have you been doing that you have repeatedly avoided your friends, including myself, every night for the last 4 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, and about 7 hours?”

“Okay, I’ll tell you,” she said, twisting her hands. “If you promise not to tell the other guys.”

“Penny!” he tsked. “You know how I feel about keeping confidences.”

“I know, Sheldon but I don’t want them to think ‘well there goes Penny, trying to be smarter than a box of rocks again’ and basically pat my hand and tell me ‘good job’ or try to write my papers for me…”

Sheldon clasped his hands behind his back and waited for her to finish. When she did not continue he said, “very well, I will not tell the guys you are trying to further your heretofore pitiable education. However, I will stipulate that you are not dumber than a box of rocks—the Neanderthals you used to date are. What you are lacking, aside from a bit of refinement and a deeper appreciation of the truly wonderful world of trains, is an education to more fully support the lifestyle you want to lead. As you are well on your way to doing so, I will simply ask that you stop all this double shift foolishness and start working Tuesday nights again so I can get my cheeseburger. I have had to resort to Soup Plantation again with Rajesh and it in no way compares when I know I am missing the bacony goodness of a Barbecue cheeseburger.”

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