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It’s only been ten minutes since Sheldon closed the door to their apartment and Penny’s not so sure what to do.

The apartment is quiet when Sheldon’s not around. His constant streaming commentary on everyone’s actions (whether in real life, in comic books, or on TV) took up a lot of air, and this was even when people weren’t arguing with him.

And now it’s kinda… awkward.

She’s leaning against Leonard, but her feet and eyes are on Sheldon’s spot. For all his talk of moving, she never thought he’d actually, you know, go.

Penny’s toes are a bright red and she stares at them, transfixed, as they knead the arm of the chair next to Sheldon’s spot. Her spot? She’s pretty sure he probably mentally gave it to her, now that he’s gone. In any case he didn’t make any objection when she sat in it the night before.

Pushing herself upright and swinging her legs off of his spot, Penny scoots over to the left side of the couch.

It’s definitely the most comfortable in the apartment, but she fidgets in it, feeling like Sheldon’s head is going to pop back in the door just to bark at her to move. She crosses her left leg over the right, then the right leg over the left, and leans back against the stripey pillow. After a moment, she wiggles a bit, trying to get comfortable.

Nope. Sitting here doesn’t give the same sense of satisfaction either, now that it’s not a spot to steal from anyone. Just a spot on the couch.

Gosh. She misses the son of a bitch. As much as she’d miss Leonard.

(Or even—)

Penny shakes her head.

Well. She can e-mail him. He can’t give her strikes from freaking Montana, and if he did, what could he do? Ban her e-mail account? It takes like two seconds to make a new one. And she has his number and, hell, she’ll even have his address once he finds a place to live. (He gave her supervision of making sure Leonard packs his shit correctly.) So she can visit him if she ever feels like a roadtrip. That is if he doesn’t manage to get his ass handed to him out there.

Penny jiggles her foot against the coffee table, red nails taptapping against the edge.

Then she stands.

Fuck this.

“Where are you going?” Leonard immediately asks, tearing his gaze away from the TV to watch her stride over to the front door.

“Yeah, no, Sheldon’s not going to Montana,” she answers, picking her car keys out of the bowl and walking out the door.

The drive to the train station is relatively short, if only because she plays around a bit with the speed limit. She steals a parking space from an SUV, which honks at her, and she has a glimpse of a soccer mom flipping her the bird before speeding off.

Sheldon’s pretty conspicuous in the train station. He’s already dressed in his winter gear, including the ugly red Jayne Cobb hat and huge-ass jacket. He doesn’t see Penny as she approaches, so she smacks him on the shoulder to get his attention.

“Hey,” she snaps.

He appears surprised momentarily when he turns, indignantly, to look at her. But that expression soon vanishes.

“Penny, I already told you,” he says, standing, “I don’t care for prolonged goodbyes or maudlin displays—”

“Okay, um, I didn’t ask for a broken record, so how about we just get your stuff and leave.”

“I don’t know how you’re possibly confused about this—” His voice is condescending and Penny resists the urge to roll her eyes. But the urge wins. She rolls her eyes. “—but I am henceforth a Bozemanite. And that christening will not be complete until—”

“Blah blah blah, all right, look, I get it. I get the, the late night watch shifts and the security systems, you know, that’s a perfectly rational way to act. Well, for you it’s a perfectly rational way to act, honestly, a bat next to the bed is a lot less complicated then voice recognition thingies—”


“Sorry. But moving to freaking Montana? Sheldon. People don’t move to Montana. People move outta there.”

“I beg to differ, statistics show—”

“Okay, you got robbed, that sucks, it’s scary and unsettling. Like, I remember when Valerie Mossbocker sacked my locker in the tenth grade—”

Sheldon’s voice is squeaky with indignation and he looks a little ridiculous with his red hat on as he says, “You’re comparing—”

(She gets it, celebration pie does not equal Nobel prize.)

“That’s not the point! My point is is that I sucker-punched that bitch in the face and got suspended for a week. That’s what you have to do!”

Sheldon stares at her as if he’s truly gone insane and he’s truly sorry about it. “My train is here; I have approximately two minutes and fifteen seconds to board. Good day.”

Fastening a hand around his bag, he hoists it up.

Okay. Two minutes. Penny has two minutes to delay him.

She thinks very quickly. Rationalizing didn’t work.

Time to break out the tears.

“Sheldon,” she chokes.

It may have been the change in her voice, or the fact that whenever Penny cries in front of Sheldon he freezes and stares and gets very uncomfortable. But either way Sheldon turns around to look at her, and stops in his tracks, and Penny practically hears his discomfort building.

Thank god Penny’s gotten really good at crying on command; she’s been caught speeding enough to practically become a pro.

Poor boy. For someone so uncomfortable with prolonged goodbyes and maudlin displays of emotion, this must be like the fifth layer of hell for him. Only beaten if she throws her arms around him and kisses him like in the movies. Or, like, takes off her top and begs him tearfully to take her, right here right now.

(WOW, her imagination lately.)

“I didn’t want to say this.” Her voice catches. It’s really bad and really cheesey and cliché, but she’s not very good at improv and she’s definitely making this up as she goes along. “But… but…”

Her face screwed up, she glances up at Sheldon.

He looks truly horrified.

“Lately, I’ve… I’ve been—” She (fake) hiccups. “Well, we’ve been spending so much more time together, and, and I’m so very confused.”

She winces at her wording. Sheldon probably doesn’t notice.

This is embarrassing. A little.

“And… and… and… and it looks like you’re going to miss your train!” she says, brightly, as Sheldon yelps, and looks around to see the doors to his train closing.

Penny sees as he raises a hand to holler and probably get them to hold, but reacting fast she throws her arms around his neck from behind and wraps both of her hands around his mouth, muffling the sound. He’s so awkward he nearly falls backwards, and for one moment Penny fears that she’d be trapped under him and he’d be like a turtle on its shell in that coat of his, but he manages to balance himself enough to whip around and give her the most frightening look he can conjure.

It’s pretty frightening. Penny is humbled, just a bit, but she’s too smug for it to have that much of an effect on her.

A half hour later (it took a while to convince Sheldon to move his gangly ass to her car and not just wait for the next train, and most of the convincing was comprised of Penny getting fed up and picking up his crap and throwing it in her trunk, and on the road he freaked out whenever she so much as approached the speed limit), Penny slams the door to 4A open and sings, “We’re baaack!”

“I told you I can just catch another train while you’re sleeping.”

“And I told you,” Penny shot back, putting Sheldon’s bag on the floor next to the couch and giving it a little kick, “that I’ll take your Geiger counter. Try leaving without it.”

“It’s embarrassingly easy to pick your lock, Penny. And the way you snore you won’t hear a thing.”

“Yeah, and the way I hit you with my bat you won’t hear a thing either,” she growls.

Sheldon does a double take, and then narrows his eyes at her.

Penny grins around the room, its occupants sporting faces a combination of exasperation and confusion.

“Sorry guys,” Penny shrugs, “I’m the only one allowed to kick his ass. And you know that Montana would have infringed on my territory.”

No one could argue with that.

In her satisfaction, Penny throws herself down on the couch.

“That’s my spot, Penny.”

Yup. He’s definitely back.