Leonard snuggles Penny closer with an approving grin. "That's my girl!"
Okay, so that's the kind of thing someone says to a puppy, but hey -- Penny's used to translating Leonard-to-English speech by now. If she was going to take offense every time he fumbled the relationship stuff, they never would've made it past the first date.
(We DIDN’T make it past the first date. Not the first time).
That's because she'd taken offense at his trying to pressure her into city college. And she understood now that he'd only been responding to her own fears of inferiority. Those were her problem, not his.
(On that first date, he kept talking about this college and that graduate school. Way to focus on what they had in common. Not).
They don't have a lot in common. Which is maybe why they still sleep together more--almost every night--than they go on dates. They both like sex, anyway. More or less. It's not always earth shaking, but this is the steadiest supply Penny has gotten since Kurt.
Leonard, still seemingly pleased with "his girl," falls right back to sleep. Penny can't. The adrenaline rush of waking up to a dark figure looming over her, his hand near her throat, won't wash away anytime soon.
(At least Leonard knew her better than to try to comfort her. She could protect herself and him too. And his stupid ring).
Still, her pulse thrums, her breath rushes in and out, her heart's doing a drumroll. Sleep? Yeah, no.
She hears the faucet in the bathroom turn on. Turn off.
She hears the medicine cabinet door open and close.
(I do not feel guilty).
Seriously. She doesn't. Moonpie knows better. The last time she opened her eyes to find him looming over her, at least he'd been doing his triple-knock-"Penny!" routine. It had startled her, but she hadn't turned violent. (Recognized him even in her sleep). But this?
He said he was bleeding. And she is awake.
With a deep, why-do-I-have-to-be-dorm-mom-for-these-g
("That's-my-girl." Because she defended herself, she wonders? Or because she hit Sheldon? Surely not the second one?)
She pads into the hallway. The bathroom door is open, so she needn't debate whether to risk talking at him through it. (He hates that. Damn, how long has she known Dr. Whackadoodle, that she knows all this?)
And yeah, there's blood. Sheldon's standing in his Tuesday night pajamas, arching backwards a bit as if to counter his bloody nose with gravity. Red-stained cotton sticks out of both nostrils, blood smeared on his hands and on a washcloth. She’s a little impressed that he handles blood better than spiders. (Better than Leonard handles needles). A bag of frozen peas from the freezer sweats on the back of the toilet.
(At least he knows how to deal with a punched nose).
Still, it's something easier done with help.
He hears her approach, of course, whether she's barefoot or not, and slides an accusing glare her direction. "Dyou hit be!"
"Sit down," she commands, firm but gentle.
Still glaring, he sinks obediently onto the closed toilet seat.
"I'b bleedi'g," he insists, in full Sheldon sulk.
Penny picks up the bag of peas and applies it gently to the bridge of his nose. "Good."
"Goodb?!" He starts to launch off the toilet like a jack-in-the-box. She catches him by a surprisingly hard shoulder and nudges him back down to where she can better reach him.She can feel that he chooses to sit back down rather than fight her. That's something, she guesses.
She's strong, but he might just be stronger.
"What the hell, Sheldon?" she demands, taking in the wreckage of his face.
He looks away, sullen, his silence a sure sign of guilt. He knows he shouldn't have tried to take the ring off her throat--in her sleep!--but God forbid Sheldon Cooper ever admit to being wrong. Confidence in a guy can be attractive, but not, you know, to the point of bull-headedness.
(Then again -- typical Taurus).
"Hold this." Handing over responsibility for the frozen-pea-icepack, she runs some warm water and rinses out the washcloth. "What time is it?"
"Whad does dat batter? I’b bleedi'g!"
"Is it before eleven o'clock in the morning?" She begins to carefully wipe the remaining blood off his face, his chin, his taut jaw. A shadow of stubble catches on the material, reminding her of the time he tried to figure out that "it's a wave!" problem.
"Id's also abter eleben o'clock ind de bordi'g."
She almost grins at how stubborn he is. "Was I asleep?"
He won't look at her. "As yjou were sdori'g, I would hab to say yjez."
"I don't snore."
Now he narrows his eyes at her mocking of his stuffy speech, or tries—they’re starting to swell. She narrows her eyes right back, guilt or no guilt.
He looks away first. But that could be because she crouches to better wipe a few traces of blood off his long, now-scruffy throat, and it gives him a good view of her cleavage.
Not that he'd be looking at her cleavage. After all... Sheldon.
"You’re a smart guy,” she starts—
“Pebby, I’b hardly smbart. I hab a—“
“IQ of 187, I know.” Sheesh. Is that the only thing Sheldon ever been praised for, growing up, that it’s always his first line of defense?
(Maybe it is).
“Still, you know what happens when someone wakes me up." She winces a little as she finishes the clean up. He's going to have a shiner--probably two of them. Not quite as bad as that time with Howard. That time was on purpose. But she left her mark.
(She wonders if she'll ever punch Leonard or Raj in the nose, and make it a hat trick).
Sheldon mutters something about a rabid wolverine, which makes her grin around her guilt. “So if you knew better…?”
“Ib was de ri'g,” insists Sheldon, focusing on it again. Which is awfully close to focusing on her cleavage. “Id mbakes peoble do bad di'gs.”
“This isn’t the ring, though.” Okay, yes, so she knows the movie. She may not immediately recognize the name of a guy who was making a Batman show before her parents dated, but she’ll damn well see any movie with Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, and Viggo Mortensen. “It’s a prop.”
“Brobably.” But he admits that grudgingly. “Ib mbade mbe sdeak upb od yjou, dough.”
“Here.” Penny gently moves his hand—and the peas—away from the bridge of his nose. Ouch. He's taking the pain remarkably well. “Let me bandage this before you go back to bed. Do you want to, maybe, take an aspirin for the swelling?”
“Dose bleebd,” he reminds her with his usual, superior exasperation, swelling or not swelling. Why does it not bother her the way Leonard’s does? “Do yjou wabnt be to egsag—eksagwinda—bleebd out?”
Yeah. He had to change the word because he couldn’t pronounce it just now, not because he doesn’t know it. He probably knows it in three languages. Still, from Dr. Sheldon Cooper, PhD, it’s funny as shit.
She laughs at his frustration, settling onto the edge of the tub because the crouching makes her legs hurt. “Just asking.” She gets out the medical tape. Sheldon winces a little from the pressure that her bandaging requires, but he doesn’t wail like he did when she first hit him. Actually, he’s nowhere near the baby, at being injured, that most guys are. Compared to how he behaves sick, it’s a relief.
(She hit him).
“There. All done.” Right before she sits back, she kisses him softly on the forehead, to make it all better. He smells good, like soap and toothpaste, despite the metallic tinge of blood, and his skin’s cold from the peas.
Sheldon stiffens. Of course he stiffens. He’s barely started to get the hang of friendly hugs, much less casual kisses. Still, of the two things she could apologize for….
“You shouldn’t have tried to steal the ring,” she tells him. “But I’m sorry I punched you. You’re my friend. Friends don’t hit friends.” She considers this. “Or steal from them.”
“I’b sorry I letd de ri'g oberpower mbe like dat,” Sheldon admits. Which isn't much of an apology, but for Sheldon counts a lot.
“Just don’t let it happen again, okay—Sheldon!” He’s staring at her cleavage again!
That is—he’s staring at the ring. Or is he?
He looks away and flushes. When he finally peeks back at her, it’s with surprisingly solemnity.
“Be carebul, Pebby,” he warns her. “Ib’s power is greadt.”
“You let me handle the ring,” she assures him with a pat on his still-surprisingly-hard shoulder. She feels comfortable, here in the bathroom, with Sheldon, in the wee hours of the morning. They get so little one-on-one time anymore, now that she’s dating—sleeping with—dating Leonard.
Leonard. She stands up to leave, wondering why—now that she’s apologized to Sheldon--she still feels guilty.
“Nighty night, Moonpie.”
“Goodbight, Pebby,” he tells her, not standing. Or protesting the nickname.
When she sees his bruised face, the next morning at breakfast, is when she decides to give the ring back to Leonard. Who knows? Maybe it does have powers.
Why take chances, right?