Penny leaned against Leonard, her hands shaking. His cape wrinkled under her cheek when she rested it on his shoulder. A few tears leaked around the corners of her eyes. Behind the couch, Sheldon paced with frantic energy, his Bat-cape snapping with each turn he made. Across from her, his Batman mask dangling empty across his shoulders where he’d pushed it off, Howard was as pale as she felt. Sitting at his friend’s feet, Raj’s silence was something deeper than his usual issues with talking if she were around.
“I can’t believe this,” Leonard snarled, his voice filled with anger and sorrow.
“It could have easily been us,” Howard said, his foot thumping up and down, jerking under the energy he didn’t know how to release.
“Those were our people that died,” Sheldon said, quietly. “The midnight showings are always filled with our people, in costume, waiting to be swept away. This is just wrong.”
“I can’t watch any more.” Penny leaned forward and clicked the TV news off. She looked at her four Batmen. She had been the only one of their group not in costume, not for lack of trying on the boys’ part. Amy and Bernadette had been away at conferences, leaving just her to pack into a sold out midnight premiere of the new Batman movie. They had been, as Sheldon said, swept away to Gotham for a night only to come home to news that made the Dark Knight’s world look sane.
Who shot up a packed movie theatre? Howard was right. It could have been them. Penny patted Leonard’s fake-muscled chest. “I need you to take this off and I need not to be alone tonight.”
He pressed a kiss to her lips, getting up. “You won’t be.”
“Howard, Raj, I want you to stay for a little while longer,” she said, even though it was well into the wee hours of the night. “I know we’re all safe, but I just…I need you here.”
No one, not even Sheldon, protested as sheets, pillows and air mattresses were dragged out for an impromptu sleep over. As Howard and Raj traded costumes for some of Leonard’s jogging pants and T-shirts, Penny felt like ice. Her faith in humanity had been shaken. She’d be all right, just not tonight.