"Penny. Penny. Penny?"
Penny slowly opened her eyes and took a moment to get her bearings. It was almost a full minute before she recognized where she was, and remembered why she was on her neighbors' couch at midnight on a Tuesday in the first place.
She'd come home from a double shift at the Cheesecake Factory and found herself opening a notice to vacate on the second floor landing. It had been all that she could do to continue up the stairs to the fourth floor. Even though it was past midnight she barely hesitated before knocking on the door belonging to her geeky neighbors.
She wasn't disappointed - even though it was well past Sheldon's bedtime, when an exhausted-looking Leonard opened the door she could see his roommate, over the shorter Leonard's shoulder, pacing around the apartment, his hair sticking up in all directions (from where he'd been running his hands through it) and barely acknowledged Penny as she entered the apartment and took her seat in the centre of the couch.
"So, you guys got an eviction notice, too?" she asked as Leonard navigated around Sheldon and got her a bottle of water out of the fridge.
"Yeah, he's been doing that ever since he opened it. If I'd known what it was I would have opened it myself and tried to break it to him gently. But, on the bright side, it's the most exercise he's had in weeks." Leonard gauged Penny's reaction a he handed her the bottle and elected to sit in his linen armchair rather than next to her on the leather couch.
"Don't mock me, Leonard. This is a serious situation." Sheldon commented, not even breaking stride as he spoke.
"Well, I might have to move back to Nebraska. What are you guys going to do?"
"Back to Nebraska? Why?" Leonard sounded almost scared at that prospect.
"Well, the only reason I could even afford the security deposit on this place in the first place was because I'd been living with Kurt for so long and had some savings. Right now, I have nothing. Moving back home might be all that I can afford, and even that might clean me out."
"Don't be absurd, you're not moving back to Nebraska." Sheldon told her, coming to an abrupt stop in front of her and motioning for Penny to move slightly to the right, leaving his cushion completely clear.
"That's right, Sheldon, you must have, what do you call them? Contingency plans? For something like this? I mean, you've got a first-aid kit in your pocket and at least three apocalypse-ready backpacks stashed here in the apartment."
"Yes, I do, but I thought I'd be leaving 2311 Los Robles of my own volition, rather than having the decision made for me by some faceless corporation with barely the courtesy to provide adequate notice. A month! I mean, that's not nearly enough time to find suitable replacement accommodations, especially as I have to take your living arrangements into account, and find somewhere that's also proximal to the university, without being too far from Wolowitz and Koothrappalli, not to mention somewhere close enough that I can walk to Amy's house, I have my relationship agreement to consider."
Penny slowly tuned Sheldon's droning voice out, leaning back on the couch as Leonard announced his plans to go to bed. Sheldon barely paused in his monologue so Penny ignored him, too, her heavy eyelids sliding closed as she concentrated on how good it felt to be sitting down after so many hours on her feet.
She didn't know what time it was, but Sheldon was saying her name, very softly.
"Go back to sleep, Sheldon." she muttered, not wanting to move.
"Penny, my leg has fallen asleep, but the rest of me is wide awake. Do you want to sleep on the couch tonight?"
Penny sat up straighter, and noticed that she'd fallen almost ninety degrees and had her head on Sheldon's right thigh.
"Oh, sorry. Yeah, you don't mind me sleeping on the couch?"
"With the current turmoil in our lives I certainly can't object. Evolution dictates that homo sapiens crave the security of a group during times of upset. I'll get you a pillow, and I'd appreciate it if you could remove your shoes before sleeping on our couch."
Penny yawned, then surprised even herself with her next sentence.
"You didn't want me to sign an overnight guest waiver?" she asked, kicking her shoes off.
"You're still covered by the friendship agreement we drew up last year, I allowed for one unannounced sleepover per month, which I felt was more than enough to allow for fluctuations in your emotional state."
"No need to thank me, Penny, I am the glue that holds our social group together, I will shoulder the burden of relocating us to a suitable domicile to ensure that our friendships can endure."