Sheldon hid behind the door as soon as he saw who was on the other side. "Penny! You're not supposed to be here!"
She smiled and stepped inside; she'd expected something like this. "Relax, Sheldon. I'll only be here for a minute. You can come out," she reached over and closed the door before gently laying her hand on his forearm, "We still have two hours left before you officially can't see me."
Sheldon shook his head, taking her left hand in his, barely noticing that she hid the other behind her back. "Penny, I take tradition very seriously. Despite my deep desire to spend the next twenty six hours with you, I should not be seeing the bride before the wedding."
Penny smiled and shook her head at his worried expression. "I understand. I'm not trying to go against tradition or barge in on your bachelor party, sweetie. I just wanted to stop by and give you're your wedding present." She held out a flat, wrapped package and waited for him to take it. He did, but continued to look at her suspiciously. After a few seconds she cracked. "Ok, fine! And I missed you! I've barely seen you at all this week what with all the preparations for tomorrow and I'm really stressed out and..."
Sheldon's suspicion melted away as he watched her smile falter and the tension creep into her shoulders. "Come here." He opened his arms and waited for her to step into them somewhat awkwardly. Penny melted into his embrace. "I already told you that you should delegate as much of the wedding responsibilities to my mother, sisters, and your friends as possible. I know you wish for everything to be perfect, but the statistical probability that everything will be perfect is incredibly minuscule and therefore you should try to relax and focus on the fact that, barring any natural disasters or unforseen acts of God, you and I will be wed tomorrow."
She sighed into his embrace. "That was exactly what I needed." She could feel him smile as he nestled his cheek into her hair. "Where are the guys?"
Sheldon's free hand gently stroked up and down his fiance's back. "They're out picking up dinner and a various assortment of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as some classic sci-fi films for tonight's festivities." He sighed, unable to keep the rest from the woman in his arms. "I also believe Wolowitz was doing his best to procure a stripper, but Leonard has promised me that he will not be successful."
Penny pulled back, playfully annoyed. "Damn right he won't be successful!" She tugged Sheldon behind her and sat in the center of the couch, pulling him toward his end. "Now open your present before the guys get back."
He put the thin package on the table. "Only if you'll open yours, as well. I had intended to give it to Missy to bring to you tomorrow along with a letter I have yet to write, but perhaps it would be better to give it to you in person." He smirked a bit and disappeared into his room.
Penny looked at the apartment with new eyes, having been staying in her maid-of-honor's house the last two nights as per Sheldon's instructions. It was still very much like she remembered it from the first time that she saw it but she didn't have to look hard to see her influence: a Hawaiian print kitchen towel next to the Batman cookie jar, Serendipity nestled next to Serenity and all of her other DVDs mixed among Sheldon's, her robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door...she could still remember the day that she and Leonard switched apartments so clearly.
Before she could get lost in the memory of Sheldon's obsessive packing for a fifteen foot move and the look of unsure happiness on Leonard's face, Sheldon strode back in the room carrying three small velvet boxes. "You may choose, Penny. Would you like to go first or shall I?"
She smiled, snuggling into his side as he sat down in his spot. "You. I want you to open yours first."
"Very well." He placed the three boxes on the table gently and picked up the thin box, carefully removing the pearly white paper. His eyes grew wide when he opened the top of the box. "You didn't! Penny! This must have cost you..."
She smiled at his reaction, watching as he very cautiously lifted out the carefully preserved, mint condition first issue of The Flash. "Don't worry about the price, Penny Blossoms were once again the official flower of the ever growing East Rutherford New Jersey Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender Luau, minus the one day rush. Plus, Stuart and Captain Sweat Pants were able to help me get it at a little bit of a discount- but they have both assured me that this is a true, mint condition, first edition issue of Flash number one." Her smile only grew as she watched him carefully turn it over in his hands.
Sheldon looked at her in awe. "You realize, of course, that by adding this issue to my collection that as long as I continue to keep up with the current publications, I will have a complete compendium of every issue of Flash comics." His voice bounced a little, still slightly unbelieving, his wide eyes darting back and forth between the plastic encased comic and his bride-to-be.
"Yup," she leaned up and kissed him. "That's why it's your wedding gift. My friends were all saying I should get you a new watch or a car or some kind of tool or something, but you like your old watch, and you don't drive, and I couldn't think of anything that you'd enjoy more than this."
He put the comic back in the box and placed it gently on the table before turning to her, a smile still lighting up his face. "Thank you, Penny." He leaned down and kissed her gently, in his mind thinking that this kiss would be exactly the kind of kiss that they'd share in about twenty-five hours that would seal their marriage. He leaned back despite his desire to continue to kiss his soon-to-be wife. "Your turn."
Sheldon reached out and picked up the first small box, about the size of a small digital camera. "I had wished to write you a letter to explain each gift, but I have not yet done so. You'll have to forgive me if my impromptu speeches are not quite as articulate as I wish them to be- I'm finding that I'm more emotionally affected by this than I would have thought."
Penny lay her hand on top of his. "It's ok, whatever you say will be perfect."
Sheldon nodded, though still a little uncertain. "I was unsure as to what to get you, so I decided to go with a little bit more of a traditional theme. Every bride needs to have something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue for luck on her wedding day, so in my first act of providing for you as your almost-husband, I will provide these items for you. First, something old."
He handed her the box and motioned for her to open it. Her eyes widened as she saw the silver, opal, and diamond earrings. "Sheldon, they're beautiful!"
"They were Mee-Maw's. Pop-Pop gave them to her for their wedding and they were married for over forty years until he died. Mee-Maw left them to me in her will a few years back, hoping that I would be able to give them to my wife in the future. I'm now finally able to happily fulfill that wish of hers." He watched as she gently lifted the earrings from the soft cotton in the case, holding them up to catch the light. "I don't know exactly how much they're worth-"
Penny put her free hand on his knee, stopping him with her smile. "They're priceless to me." She gently put them back in the case and held it expectantly in her lap as he picked up the next case.
"As for the something new, I had these made to match Mee-Maw's earrings. They're one of a kind." He passed her the thin, long box.
Penny gently opened it, tears coming to her eyes. Inside were a matching bracelet and necklace, thin and delicate with oval diamonds and opals to match the earrings. "Sheldon, they're gorgeous!"
Sheldon smirked, running a hand through her hair and letting it sit under her chin as his thumb stroked across her jaw. He had to swallow around the lump in his throat. "Only the best for you, Penny." He reached over and kissed her quickly, trying to crush the conflicting urges to cry and to ravish her by moving on. He pushed off the couch and took out his wallet. "Something borrowed. I expect it back."
Penny put down the jewelry and took the small piece of laminated paper that he pulled out of his wallet. "The Justice League of America?" She asked, slightly amused.
"It may seem... juvenile," he blushed a bit, playing with the edge of his wallet, "but I have had it since I was five, it has been in every wallet I have ever owned and it has traveled around the world with me. It was in my back pocket when we met and on our first date. I had it on me when I proposed and I intend for it to be at our wedding. I see it as somewhat of a... good luck charm, though I'm disinclined to believe in such things." Sheldon watched as she turned it over. He'd laminated it the year before when he noticed that the bottom right edge was starting to lose its color and the top right corner had developed a small tear.
Penny smiled at the card and then up at her soon-to-be-husband. "I will 'carry this on my person' at our wedding," she quoted the directions on the back of the card, amused at this little quirk that she'd never known about, "and you shall get it back exactly as you gave it to me." She leaned up and pecked him on the lips, sliding the card into the back pocket of her jeans.
Sheldon picked up the last box and looked at it intently. "Something blue." As he looked up at her all Penny could think of was that his eyes were the blue of tropical oceans; the only "something blue" she'd ever need. Sheldon's voice wavered as he spoke again, and she reached out, taking his hand and intertwining their fingers to give him the strength to speak about the emotions that he so closely guarded. "This is already yours, so it isn't truly a gift, but I hope that... the realization along with it... that my words will be... that perhaps-"
Penny squeezed his hand tightly. "Just say it, Sheldon. You've already given me so much, and I'm talking about much more than just the gifts you've given me today. Tell me."
Sheldon sighed, looking down at the box and licking his now dry lips before his eyes found hers. He silently handed her the gift, watching as she opened the velvet box and revealed a Penny Blossom. It wasn't just any Penny Blossom, though, it was the first one he'd ever made: she could tell from the extra few drops of hot glue on two consecutive petals. She'd only worn it a few times, but never had the heart to throw it away. It had lived in the bottom of her jewelry box for years, sitting there happily but unused. "The first one you made..." she whispered.
"When I thought about it, that was the day that I truly fell in love with you. That day, sitting there, singing ridiculous sea shanties and gluing rhinestones on a synthetic flower, I fell in love with you. I don't know why, I don't know how. When I look back on it, it's almost like I was always in love with you in some way or another, but that day was the fist day that I could remember where I didn't want to leave the room because you were still there, where I actively cared about your happiness and success more then my own, where I knew that together, we could do extraordinary things."
Sheldon lifted the blossom from the box and pushed the clip into her hair, smiling. "I fell deeply and irrevocably in love with you as I made this simple flower barrette. No Nobel Prize, no published paper, no honor could mean more to me than this small adornment." His fingers ghosted over the petals, brushing down her chin. "I never thought I could feel this way about anyone, Penny." She leaned forward, pressing their foreheads together, breathing in his air and his energy. She swallowed deeply, trying to push the tears back. "I love you, Penny. I love you more than I have ways to ever express that emotion."
Seconds ticked by as she reveled in the love that this man felt for her, her hands tangling together at the back of his neck, holding him close. Just as she opened her mouth to declare her love, as well, the front door slammed open.
"We got porn!" Howard shouted as he burst through the door, carrying a black plastic bag. "Boob-a-rella: the take off of the classic Barbarella!"
Penny and Sheldon pulled apart, her death glare stopping the small Jewish man in his tracks, causing Raj and Leonard to bump into him. "Howard?" She drew out his name, anger bubbling up. "My future husband wants a bachelor party that consists of sci-fi movies without porn, a few diet virgin Cuba libres, and no strippers." Penny stood, picked up the two boxes of jewelry and dragged her almost-husband behind her as she met the trio of men at the door. "If I find out that you boys didn't follow those rules, you'll be sporting black eyes at my wedding." She turned and leaned up, kissing her fiancé goodbye. "And then you'll be in trouble, because you'll have ruined my wedding pictures. Goodnight, Sheldon. I love you. Raj, Howard, Leonard..." She lifted her eyebrows and raised her fist before she left, the door clicking shut behind her.
The men were frozen, worried about her threat until they spun around, eyes wide when they heard Sheldon's next words.
"Penny got me issue number one of Flash for her wedding gift. If you agree to my non-contamination procedure, I'll let you look at it."
The next afternoon, Doctor and Mrs. Cooper walked down the aisle for the first time as man and wife, grinning madly. Sheldon's mother remarked on the bride's earrings being a family heirloom, his sister on the matching tennis bracelet and necklace that complemented her new sister-in-law's dress beautifully. Penny's brother-in-law kept asking why she had that "stupid sparkly flower" in her hair, and got several bruised ribs in the process.
At the reception's open bar, Howard Wolowitz found that the girls he was hitting on were much less receptive to his sob story once they found out that it was the bride that had given him the shiner on his left eye.
Later that night, Sheldon returned his Justice League of America card to his wallet with a wide grin after finding it hidden in the cup of Penny's bra.