Spoilers: Just for the show in general.
Word Count: 1821.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, show, or any of the amazing bits that make up this show. No infringement is intended.
Summary: In which Penny has trouble sleeping and Sheldon begins to solve the most important equation in the world.
A/N: My bottomless gratitude goes out to fujiidom and 3pirouette for the amazing and super-fast betas. And thanks to annjej76 for inadvertently inspiring parts of this. ^_^ Here are those invisible equations you wanted!
The blankets tangled around her body like a serpent coiling around its unsuspecting prey – cotton dragging across her skin with its soft, downy texture – and the air was hot with sleep and dreams. Nothing felt right. She couldn't find a single spot on the pillow case that was cool enough for her face, there was nowhere warm enough for her feet – not even twined around Sheldon's smooth-scratchy-hot-comforting legs, stealing all of his body heat. The babies were awake and kicking as if to say “If we're awake you're going to be awake too, Mommy.”
When women talked to her about being pregnant they always gushed about the feeling of new life growing inside of them; about how they wondered what this new little person would look like, act like, sound like, who they would take after, if they would be a good parent... and she did think about all of those things. What no one ever talked about was how she didn't just look like she had swallowed a watermelon, she felt like it too! Especially since she was pregnant with twins. Everything inside of her felt constantly smushed and prodded and there just wasn't enough room for these wonderful new little people to grow and shift and PRACTICE KICKBOXING, because obviously that's what was going on in there!
Penny let loose a plaintive whine-growl and shifted again, feet seeking out the back of Sheldon's knees and toes burrowing into the space between his calves. 'This is really all his fault...' she thought crankily as she tried to decide if she could roll over on her own or if she'd need his help again this time. 'Twins run in HIS family, not mine. So this is totally his fault... and if he thinks I'm EVER having sex with him again he better think again, because I'm definitely not! Never ever again... not even when he's being all sweet and sexy and playing with my hair while we watch Dr. Who.' Being on this side really wasn't working, she really needed to roll over. Like now! Unfortunately she closely resembled a Thanksgiving Day Parade float this far into her pregnancy and needed a hand.
“Sheldon! Sheldon, wake up!” Poking him mercilessly in the shoulder she waited for him to respond. He was so far away that her arm barely reached. Her enormous stomach made her favorite position to sleep in – cuddling up behind him and tangling her fingers in the bottom of his Wednesday pajama t-shirt, her favorite, the one she'd gotten him for Christmas – a near impossibility.
“Dange- Oh, Penny what is it?” He had nearly broken his habit of yelling “danger!” every time he woke unexpectedly, but he was almost as sleep deprived as she was at this point and it had crept up on him lately. That's what he insisted at least, but Penny knew he was feeling extremely protective now that she was in her seventh month and his daddy instincts were kicking into overdrive. His voice was sexy and sleep roughened and maybe she wouldn't be so hasty about saying no sex ever again... just not until he was properly sorry for getting her pregnant with twins.
“I can't sleep on this side and I can't roll over with out your help. Could you give me a push, sweetie?” He must have seen her misery painted on her face in the dim glow from the fish night-lights because he didn't say a word, just carefully, gently, helped her roll onto her other side. Once he'd helped arrange her ever-present pillows under her stomach and between her knees, he settled back and cuddled up behind her.
They lay peacefully for a few minutes before he asked, “Why can't you sleep? Are you experiencing round ligament pain again?” Cautiously – wary of her sudden bouts of 'don't touch me, leave me alone, its too hot' that struck without warning – his hand massaged her stomach, just inside the edge of her hip. Sighing gratefully, Penny felt the unbearable tension in her abdomen ease – and the kicking slow to a more tolerable level of activity – with each sweep of his strong, capable, perpetually ink-stained hand. No matter how many times he washed them, marker from his boards lingered giving her daily reminders of how brilliant the love of her life could be. Even when he was being neurotic about the toxicity of the paint for the nursery or fretting over the perfect placement for the twin bassinets that had been delivered three days ago. Reminding her how brilliant he was every time he told her he loved her in that obtuse way of his.
“Sort of, I guess. It's just a dull ache this time though, all over. And it feels like I'm going to explode, everything is so cramped and tight.” she let out an exasperated sigh. “This is all your fault you know!”
“My fault? Penny I fail to see how the common complaints of pregnancy are in any way my fault. They're not anyone's fault really, it's just the nature of the biological process that is at fault. Pregnancy is a very trying experience for any mammal. In fact, that is why the female of any mammal species is naturally more resilient and hardy than the males, since they are the ones to bear the burden of giving birth to the live young in addition to carrying them for the set gestation period.” His scientific babbling was soothing in its own annoying way, and she found it more endearing than annoying these days anyway. Her frustration at feeling like a turducken begin to fade... until she received a sharp kick to the kidney, made more painful by the lack of kicking for the past minute or so, just as he said, “I'm not surprised that you're experiencing more than your fair share of discomfort, seeing as you're carrying twins. Multiple birth pregnancies are notorious for being exceptionally trying-”
With her ire raised fully once again, she spat, “It's your fault because twins run in your family, not mine! I wouldn't be having twins if it wasn't for you!” Swatting his hand away from where it was rubbing, she did her best to give him the cold shoulder and appear pissed off and dangerous if he was looking ... not much of a stretch considering how she felt, but probably not very effective in her maternity Hello Kitty pajamas with her bottom lip stuck out like a four-year-old throwing a tantrum.
“Actually, the fact that I'm a twin does not influence your odds of having twins. Twins would have needed to appear somewhere in your maternal lineage for this to have been a genetic predisposition.” While he spoke his hand found its way to her stomach again, warm fingers and soft caresses relaxing her just as much as the sound of his voice, his other hand creeping awkwardly between them so his thumb could knead the small of her back, knowing it was the perfect way to smooth her ruffled feathers. “A much more likely hypothesis is that it results from our decision to attempt to have children and you ceasing your birth control regiment. The odds of multiple pregnancy are increased in that instance. A woman's body needs time to settle into a more regular ovulatory pattern after prolonged exposure to the hormones in the birth control pill, and judging by the speed with which you conceived I would say you probably had not, therefore two ovum were likely present to be fertilized.”
As she felt her annoyance fade again, Penny realized that the motions of his fingers weren't quite as aimless as she'd assumed. It felt like he was tracing... numbers onto her skin. Slender digits were precise in their motions, as exacting in this as he was in everything.
“Sheldon... are you doing math on my belly?” The inquisitive note of her voice hinted that her irritation could return just as quickly as it had gone, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to hear the answer if it meant she had to waste the energy to be pissed off again... she was so damn tired.
Hot breath drifting across the back of her neck, he replied softly, “I'm calculating the variables necessary to determine the odds of every moment in the history of the universe having occurred exactly as they did for billions of years.” The soft kiss he planted on the heated skin where shoulder met neck sent shivers down her spine, relaxing her ever further.
“Why are you figuring that out at...” She lifted her head the barest amount needed check the clock, “3:42 AM on a work night? Couldn't you try to calculate the variables for... whatever it is... tomorrow while you're at work? That's the sort of stuff they pay you for anyway. I just want one of us to be well rested tomorrow – you don't need to be tired on top of dealing with my whining.”
“You don't actually whine, Penny. You succinctly express your displeasure at having two rambunctious progeny kicking you in the spleen at odd intervals. Besides, this calculation only occurred to me just now. I can't let it slip away before I begin to work on it. It is possibly the most important equation I've ever attempted, in the grander scheme of things. More important than when I reconciled the black hole information paradox with my theory of string network condensates, even.” Still tracing numbers – as well as Greek letters and symbols she wouldn't recognize if they were written on a piece of paper in front of her face. The light caresses deepened into a more purposeful massage, along all of the spots he knew were tender and aching, just like every other night she couldn't sleep and every day that carrying his children momentarily became less of a wonder and more of a pain, until he soothed her and she remembered exactly why this was the most joyous experience of her life.
Beginning to finally drift into much welcomed slumber, Penny asked, “Why is it so important? If you need to work on it that badly there's an empty white board in the living room, Sheldon.”
“I don't want to get up and leave you when you're uncomfortable... and this equation is important because it will tell me the odds of every molecular interaction in the universe, every moment in human history, every action in both of our lives happening exactly as they did. It will tell me just how close this moment was to never happening...” voice soft and sincere – moved by this perfect moment – he watched his feisty wife slip into dreamland, and continued calculate the equation that had led them here as her breathing slowed and deepened. He was sure that if he could determine the journey that he could keep them on course.