The marriage license, which Sheldon had lovingly protected with a plastic sheet cover and a binder, was the only thing still dry by the time they made it up the steps of the County Clerk's office. Penny's hair had fallen flat and the hem of her dress had wicked up enough rain water just from the walk from the car to the building that the dress was gray up to her knees. Underneath the portico at the top of the stairs she stopped to ring out the dirty water. Penny took off her heels that had been a pristine white this morning, but were now an unattractive gray.
"Who's heard of a rainstorm in southern California in the middle of June?" Penny muttered as she pulled the bobby pins from what had been a French twist. There was no salvaging it, not that she had the energy to do so anymore.
Sheldon watched her stick the pins along the front edge of her bodice. "Most Western European cultures consider rain on one's wedding day to be good luck."
She rolled her eyes at him and shook her hair out. It was still stiff from the hair spray, but what little of her reflection she could catch in the glass door of the County Clerk's office suggested that she wasn't looking half bad for a woman whose wedding had been interrupted by her sister shooting her brother-in-law.
"Ready?" She asked him, pausing with her hand on the door handle.
"I really don't understand why you insist on doing this. Everyone expects us to reschedule."
This earned him another annoyed look before she passed him to enter the building.
"We're supposed to have an appointment, you know," he said. "They don't like it when people simply walk in and demand to be wedded."
"We're getting married," Penny replied, just as she had done at least fifty times in the past three hours. She had assumed it has her personal mantra for the last two weeks. It helped her get through Missy Cooper's choice for a bridesmaid dress and Howard appearing at her bachelorette party in only a Speedo.
Sheldon followed Penny through the hallways as she searched for the appropriate office. It was obvious from his squirming that he knew where the office was, but telling her where it was would violate rule sixteen of their relationship.
She finally happened upon the correct office and rushed in dramatically, dropping the door on Sheldon as he went to enter after her.
"Penny, you know that I am extremely fond of schedules, but the schedule for today is completely corrupted. It would be best at this point if we simply returned home to plan another wedding."
The office was quiet save for a couple conversing in Spanish with one of the employees at the counter.
"I am not facing your mother again without being legally married to you. Seriously, Sheldon. She's probably back at the apartment polishing her shotgun."
"My mother doesn't own a fire arm, Penny. I fail to see how you can lobby the claim given today's events, which have proven that it is your family that has a penchant for discharging firearms poorly aimed at other family members."
Chuck had had it coming if anyone had asked Penny, but she was not in the mood to ruminate on the people who had ruined her dream wedding. She had started planning it before she had even graduated from high school. Although she had changed the design of the wedding dress she wanted with the trends, the ostentatiousness of the ceremony had only grown over the years. Sheldon's bank account had only proved a small hurdle to the realization of a wedding that was more like something from a movie than a real world wedding. Their families and the boys had proved the biggest obstacle. Raj had shown up to the church too drunk to stand. To even things out, Penny cut one of her bridesmaids from the wedding party and sent her to sit in the back pew with Stuart to watch over Raj.
Penny pulled Sheldon up to the counter and smiled at the man seated there.
"How may I help you?"
"We would like to get married."
"It'll cost you twenty-five: cash or money order. Do you have a witness?"
"Do we need one?" Penny asked. Sheldon said nothing in light of the rules, though she delivered a preemptive elbow to the gut to keep him quiet.
The man looked at them from behind the glass; it was apparent in his eyes that years of civil service had driven the compassion out of his soul and left only the husk of a man and a dream of retirement. "A witness can be hired for eighteen."
She looked to Sheldon.
Sheldon pulled his wallet from the breast pocket and peered into the billfold. "I only have thirty four dollars. To say this course of events was unforeseen would be quite the understatement."
"We're getting married," Penny said and turned back to the man at the window. "Is there any way you could waive the fee or take a credit card?"
The man took a swig from his coffee cup and stared at her.
"Fine. I'll go find a witness," Penny said. She put her shoes down on the counter before trudging out of the office, leaving Sheldon alone with the clerk.
Penny was very flushed when she returned, but she had a man by one arm and a handful of his t-shirt.
Sheldon clutched the binder closer. "Wil Wheaton."
Wil Wheaton seemed generally bemused when he spied Sheldon at the counter. "So, you're marrying this one? I thought you were with the one who looks like a hamster."
Penny shook her head and continued pulling him towards the counter by one arm. He seemed in no hurry to reach the counter.
"We meet again."
"Wheaton," Sheldon hissed and took a step back. Wil Wheaton shrugged and looked to the man behind the counter.
"The line starts around the corner," the man directed.
Penny quickly hustled them off towards the plastic chairs where they were to wait. Sheldon sat to her right while Wil settled down to her left. He picked up a copy of People that declared "Angelina: Pregnant with Twins" and began to leaf through it.
"What are you doing here?"
He didn't look up at Sheldon, preferring instead to read an article about something crazy that Lindsey Lohan had done years ago. "Even famous actors such as myself have to get things notarized."
Sheldon attempted to sit back in his chair. Every few seconds he would shift position, taking a moment to glare at Wil each time he did. It distracted Penny from checking her texts in her inbox updating her on brother-in-law's condition and sister's flight from the law. Each time he shifted he jostled her, causing her to accidentally close her inbox several times.
"Sit still," she said, squaring her shoulders.
"Penny, may I have a word with you?"
"Not here. Meet me in the corner."
She closed her phone and walked with him to the corner, at most seven feet from the other man.
"Penny, I don't think you understand. This man is the Edison to my Tesla," Sheldon snapped, crossing his arms. He leaned to the side to peer around Penny, and he thought he saw Wil Wheaton wink at him. "He's my mortal enemy. I cannot go through with this Penny."
"Do you want to borrow twenty dollars from him?"
There was a great shuffling from behind one of the doors in the hall, and a party of ten or so people exited from the room. They crowded the hall, passing between the couple and Wil Wheaton. When the group had passed, he was already at the door.
Wil Wheaton opened the door, but stood back, gesturing gallantly for Penny to enter first. Sheldon stepped forward to follow her in, but Wil slipped between them, dropping the door on Sheldon as he did.
"Give us the quickest version ya' got," she instructed the officiant as she waddled towards the x on the floor where she was supposed to stand, still barefoot.
After Sheldon handed the officiant the wedding license, the men took their places, Sheldon on the corresponding x and Wil stood on Penny's side. The couple joined hands while the officiant took his place before them.
"I charge and require of you both, as before a bar of justice, and in the presence of this witness, that if either of you know of any legal or moral impediment to this marriage, you do now reveal the same."
Sheldon stared beyond his bride, deep into his enemy's eyes.
"I have a moral objection to this man serving as witness. Could we perhaps exchange him for the polite gentleman behind the counter in the lobby?"
"Just shut up and marry me."
"Do you take this man as your husband?" asked the officiant, not skipping a beat.
"Do you take this woman as your wife?"
"By the power vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you man and wife."
Penny leaned in towards Sheldon for a kiss, but the officiant cleared his throat. He produced a ballpoint pen from the front pocket of his polo and tapped the wedding certificate. Sheldon hurried up to sign it, and then passed the pen off to Penny, who in turn passed it to Wil. When they had each finished, the man handed the wedding license to Penny and nodded towards the door.
It wasn't what she had expected from her wedding, but Penny couldn't help but be content. There would always be a chance for a do-over. Her mind began to reel with ideas. It would be bigger and even better. They would hold the do-over somewhere nicer, and maybe she wouldn't invite her family. At the do-over she would make sure that no one replaced Wagner's wedding march with the "Imperial March".
They exited into the hall as the next group passed them to enter the room.
"Let's take a picture," Wil said, and pulled out his phone. Penny set the marriage license on one of the plastic chairs where they had waited and adjusted her bodice. Wil Wheaton slung and an arm around her waist and held out his cell phone to take a picture.
Sheldon leaned down to look at the marriage certificate. On the 'witness' line was a signature which read "Wesley Crusher". When he looked back to Wil and Penny, he was horrified to see his enemy kissing her as he dipped her and continued to take pictures with his cell.
"Wheaton!" Sheldon screamed as Penny wiped off the corners of her mouth.