"Just think, Penny," Sheldon said as his hand tightened around hers, "You will witness history: the first time I have really met Leonard Nimoy."
"Yeah, I'm -- wait. You told me that you've met him twice before."
Sheldon didn't -- he didn't lie, he didn't exaggerate, he didn't imply or any of those other things Spock said he did instead of lie in the nine thousand Star Trek movies Sheldon had coerced her into watching since they had started dating.
Or maybe he did?
"Sheldon, honey, have you or have you not met Leonard Nimoy?" Penny asked.
"Does it matter now," he hissed. "We're in the Exclusive Eternal Members' VIP Lounge -- only twenty-five passes to this secret floating lounge are printed every year and they are randomly distributed to Eternal Members nine months before the start of DragonCon, and the gods of science fiction I facetiously thank at this moment for their blessings did not grant me and one guest a pass so that we could come here, see Leonard Nimoy enjoying a club soda, and proceed to discuss the technical existence of a personal relationship between myself and said Leonard Nimoy!"
"'Technical existence' like my virginity when I went to college?"
Sheldon stared her down for a long moment and replied, "Yes, non-existent. You have discovered the truth, Penny: I've never really met Leonard Nimoy."
- The First Time Sheldon Kind of Met Leonard Nimoy -
The year was 1998 and Sheldon was 17 years old. 1998 was an excellent year by all accounts: his first dissertation had been published by a small academic press, which led to a three-week press tour around Southern morning talk shows that were more interested in his age rather than twistor theory. Concurrently, he had completed the first year of research into his second dissertation and the outlook of his research being completed within the desired timeline seemed favorable.
Sheldon was also finally tall enough to be the Captain Spock to his CompuServe best friend's Admiral Kirk on the summer convention circuit. (The year prior, they had resigned themselves to go as Ferenghi smugglers.)
Life was good for Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper, PhD.
"This is the year, Norman," Sheldon typed in an instant message. "This is the year I will forsake all other panels at Comic-Con and make it my priority to meet Leonard Nimoy."
"Really?" Norman responded a minute later. (It had literally been one minute due to the subpar 28.8K connection in his dorm room at the time -- really, 56.6K was becoming the standard and it was unacceptable for an educational institution to provide such shabby amenities to its graduate students.)
"Yes. Once Comic-Con releases the detailed itinerary of its guests and panels, we will begin the whittling process for out fullest mutual enjoyment."
Methodically and carefully they planed their Comic-Con experience, rationing out their stipends and assisting each other to cover incurred expenses (Norman was also a graduate student at the University of Toronto, though because he was 19, he was able to take on additional chemistry sections as an adjunct, whereas Sheldon was prevented from doing so because it was considered child labor). Costumes (including props), transportation, room (including board), passes -- it was all assembled and prepared just in time for Comic-Con.
Sheldon, as was his way, prepared for every possible failure in their fool-proof system: he made additional copies of all their passes, tickets, and identification (and one extra set of Vulcan ears and adhesive should something befall his main pair); he called every day to confirm their room (until they advised him to stop or their reservation would suddenly disappear); and, of course, he rehearsed how this meeting of two extraordinary minds would play.
"Okay, so you'll SMS me if something happens?" Norman asked, making sure his Nokia was turned on.
"Please, Norman, don't let my mother's fire and brimstone lectures frighten you," Sheldon assured him. "Jesus Christ is a figure of peace and harmony, and rather an important figure in the Christian mythology my mother so fervently subscribes to; he would hardly have the time to reach down into your stomach, rip it out and make you wear it should anything happen to her Shelly-Belly."
Norman looked concerned for a moment, and then added, "Still, you're gonna be okay here?"
"Yes, Norman, thank you!"
Norman relaxed for a moment and then looked to the front of the extremely long line, standing on the balls of his feet (or 'tip toes') for a moment. "He's there, all right, and signing away -- what're you going to say to him?"
"Norman, I will have a full report for you when we emerge from our respective events. Now go -- you want to hear the tales regarding Babylon 5 more than you do my earnest declarations of admiration to Spock himself."
Norman did, and so Norman left.
Sheldon did have his introduction planned, and had rehearsed it. He reflected that it had actually been gestating in his mind since the first Star Trek episode he had seen ("The Naked Time", Season 1 Episode 6, Stardate 1704.2 -- a particularly Spock-laden episode and surely a sign that he was fated to worship the character of Spock). It went something exactly like this:
"Hello. I am Sheldon Lee Cooper (PhD with another in the works), and I would like you to know how much I admire your work for Star Trek, Mr. Nimoy, of which I have been a devoted fan since the age of five and a half. It was your character, sir, which first sparked the love of science in me, a love which has become a vocation and to which I have devoted myself in the intervening years. [Upon being asked whether he was a scientist] Why yes, I am a scientist: I have just had my first dissertation on twistor theory published by the University of Kansas Press, and work is progressing on my second dissertation quite nicely. They are not sequential works, but perhaps I may be able to draw a bridge of sorts between them. [Upon completing his signature] Thank you sir, for this gracious opportunity, and I hope your Comic-Con experience is as wonderful as mine has become from this moment forward. [Vulcan salute] Live long. And prosper."
It wasn't arrogant or overly fawning, nor filled with the minutiae less compassionate fans felt the need to heap upon actors they admired. It would do very nicely.
Sheldon felt a chill around his ribbed Captain Spock turtleneck collar when he glanced to the front of the line and saw the stubble of Mr. Nimoy's cheeks. It was even more glorious than on the cover of his first edition of I Am Spock. He drew nearer and there was nothing now to stop him from meeting Leonard Nimoy. He reflected on his speech, rehearsed his casual smile and laugh, and progressed.
Finally, he reached the front of the table.
Leonard Nimoy glanced up at him, wry chocolate eyes crinkled around the edges and boring into his own -- an eyebrow slowly lifted, and Sheldon inferred it was because he stood there in complete silence with his mouth hanging just slightly open.
"Welcome," Leonard Nimoy said.
"Hi," Sheldon replied. He faintly saw a glossy photograph slide across the table under Leonard Nimoy's massive hands -- really, how could one live a life interacting with delicate scientific instrumentation with hands like those -- perhaps tools were more resilient in the future --
"Who should I make this out to?"
"Shel -- Sheldon?"
The pen moved effortlessly across the photo and Leonard Nimoy asked, "So, you like Captain Spock?"
"Yes, I like when he dies."
Sheldon's mouth fell open at its own moronic behavior and Leonard Nimoy's eyebrow climbed higher than ever.
"That's new. Here you go, Sheldon." He slid the photograph across the table and Sheldon took it carefully, delicately, and stared at it. He looked back at Leonard Nimoy, who held up a hand and said it, said it: "Live long and prosper."
Then, for their mutual benefit, he added, "Even if you think I shouldn't."
Sheldon could faintly hear laughter around him but was too struck by the fist of some angry god (perhaps his mother was right) to reply in kind or at all. He simply walked away from the table and found himself standing outside the doors to the Star Trek: Insurrection panel, where Norman found him some time later.
"So how'd it go!" Norman asked, clapping him firmly on the shoulder. "Has your life been changed? Did you get a picture? Did he touch you?"
"It… was fine…" Sheldon said. A lie was born.
- The Second Time Sheldon Didn't Really Meet Leonard Nimoy -
"Sheldon," Penny said slowly. "I'm so sorry -- have you ever told anyone that?"
"Penny! What part of a lie was born --" Sheldon did the elaborate hand gestures that had to accompany the phrase at all times, "-- did you not understand? Lies are meant to be upheld! Of course I never told anyone."
She frowned and leaned against his upper arm, wrapping her hands around his forearm and then his waist. She squeezed around his tiny little ribcage and then smoothed down his t-shirt.
He didn't swat her hands away, but did say, "Penny, I have not needed anyone to smooth my clothing since I learned to use starch at the age of six…" She glanced at him and he shut up. He frowned for a moment and then understood, and she smiled because he understood. They were getting kind of good at this, the whole 'I'm going to treat you like any other boyfriend and you're going to realize that sometimes people just do pointless things to make each other feel better' thing -- except he wasn't any other boyfriend, was he?
Yeah, she really hadn't been this hopeful about a relationship since the first month of college or so. (Related to the virginity thing? Shut up.)
"So what about the second time?" she asked. "When you didn't really meet Leonard Nimoy?"
"I would have thought that was obvious," he replied. "It was when you presented me with the napkin he used at the Cheesecake Factory."
"Really?" she asked. "You think that counts?"
He looked hurt for a second and she tightened her arms around him again. "Sorry, sweetie, I'm just imagining you talking to the napkin and introducing yourself to it." She stood up straight for a moment and raised her eyebrows. "You didn't, did you?"
"Penny, of course not -- it isn't as if the presence of his DNA on that napkin maintained a tenuous connection with the molecules in --"
"Never mind. What we do in our own rooms is our own business, okay?"
"It's a good rule."
(Penny liked to sing in the shower/for auditions without Sheldon trying to accompany her on his homemade Vulcan lute. Sheldon? Like she said, it was his business.)
"It's the reason I invited you," Sheldon added.
"…You invited me?" she asked. "I thought I invited myself because Wolowitz said there would be strippers in here."
"Partially that, yes, but I did invite you because you were instrumental in our second not-meeting." Sheldon reached for one of her hands again and she grasped it. "I did think, once I had recovered from the mild black out due to the shock of being presented with that gift, that you would be here with me when I finally did meet him."
"And what's the logical reason for that?" she asked, half-teasing him. Okay, mostly teasing him.
"Oh, there are any number of reasons," he began. "The continued integration of your presence into that sphere which is extremely important to me, the development of an intimate emotional space between us which would lead to the stabilizing of a long-term relationship -- getting you to avoid making those supersonic shrieks of displeasure is rather high up on the list --"
"…what supersonic shrieks of displeasure?"
Sheldon was about to explain, or explain why he wouldn't explain, when Leonard Nimoy sat up in his chair a little and looked right at them. "Over here, you lug, I've only been here for an hour!"
Penny and Sheldon gripped each other and Penny was sure Sheldon's knees buckled silghtly. She grinned and looked up at Sheldon, seemingly still in mid-aneurysm, when a figure about her height walked around them and pat Sheldon on the back.
"He's talking to me, son, don't let the crazy man bother you," William freaking Shatner told Sheldon. He tossed her a tiny smile, too, and then headed over to the table where Leonard freaking Nimoy was sitting.
"Sheldon," Penny said.
"Yes Penny, I'm aware William Shatner, your captain and mine, just touched the area around my kidney," Sheldon replied, still holding onto her hand and shoulder like a kid on the Titanic.
"Sheldon, I think it's time," she said. "Come on."
"What?" Sheldon asked. "Time for what?"
"Penny, I am perfectly content to leave the Exclusive Eternal Members' VIP Lounge now that Captain Kirk has touched me."
"That's not what you came here for and you know it."
- The Time Sheldon Really Did Meet Leonard Nimoy -
Sheldon took Penny's hand firmly and strode over to the table. The Table. He waited for Penny to settle next to him, cleared his throat gently, and --
"Hey there!" Penny said.
Sheldon's neck swiveled slowly to look at her and raise his eyebrow. She looked at him and smiled. "All yours!" she said.
He still had difficulties with genuine smiles, but sarcastic ones were perfectly fine with him, and it was a sarcastic smile he shot at her just then.
"Hello, gentlemen," he said in his trained professorial voice. "I'm Dr. Sheldon Cooper, PhD, and this is my girlfriend, Penny. I would --"
"Sheldon," Leonard Nimoy said. "Sheldon."
"Yes, Sheldon," Sheldon clarified. "Anyway --"
Penny and Sheldon exchanged looks and mouthed the word Billy? to each other, then looked at the men sitting again.
"This is -- remember years and years ago --"
"Oh heavens no," Sheldon sighed.
"-- I think it was San Diego -- that kid who asked for a picture and then told me he liked it when Spock died?"
"No," Shatner gasped. He looked at Sheldon with a very shocked expression and said, "You made him cry for days after that -- do you know --"
"No -- he's kidding," Nimoy clarified, "I didn't cry."
"Like a colicky baby," Shatner said. "I couldn't stop him, all I could do was keep him hydrated and play my audiobooks for him like ambient noise so he could fall asleep."
"Which I find ironic, considering that you design your science fiction novels, and even your autobiographical works, to be thrill-a-minute joyrides of prose and hardly the sort of thing one would use to slow a heartbeat down to the subject's unconsciousness," Sheldon said.
The actors exchanged a look and then looked at Penny simultaneously.
"He's for real," she assured them. "You don't get more real than Sheldon."
"So have you come by to tell Len he should die?" Shatner asked. "Because I think at this age, he's more than ready for it!"
"Oh my god," Penny said.
"A joke," Shatner said. "We joke."
"We joke," Nimoy agreed.
"I simply wanted to inform you both, but particularly Mr. Nimoy, sir --"
"Hey," Shatner interrupted. "Why's he get the 'particularly'? I didn't inspire you?"
"Well, frankly, no," Sheldon said. "Though I fundamentally agree with Spock's decision to defer to Kirk's command expertise, you must admit that Captain Kirk ran a fairly shoddy ship."
"They're like brass," Penny explained, cupping her hands slightly, causing Shatner to choke on the sip of club soda he stole from his friend's glass.
"So you didn't want Spock to die?" Nimoy asked.
"Mister Nimoy," Sheldon enunciated, "No."
"That's all I needed," Nimoy said.
"And this was all I needed," Sheldon said. He extended a hand, and Leonard Nimoy shook it, and gave him a real smile. "A pleasure."
Penny shook hands with both of them and they turned to grab a table opposite to enjoy their time in the Exclusive Eternal Members' VIP Lounge. A few steps away, Penny shrieked quietly and grabbed at Sheldon's arm.
"That was amazing," she gushed. "You were so cool! You didn't talk about Klingons or pon farr or anything horrible like that!"
"Horrible?" Sheldon asked. "Pon farr is a biological urge for the propagation of the Vulcan race. I fail to --"
Sheldon stopped in the middle of the lounge and turned around.
"Mr. Nimoy, do you believe it to be true that Vulcans only engage in sexual intercourse once every seven years?" Sheldon asked.
"Jim wouldn't let that happen," Shatner informed him.
"Bill," Nimoy sighed. He pointed a finger at Sheldon and at Shatner and warned them, "Remember. What happens in the Exclusive Eternal Members' VIP Lounge stays in the Exclusive Eternal Members' VIP Lounge."
The four of them offered Vulcan salutes at each other (Leonard leaning over to help Bill with his and Penny giggling at it) and Penny bought Sheldon a super slutty Cuba Libre to help his hand stop shaking in hers.