A/N: Hello! And welcome to the second story, The Relationship Expansion, of my Big Bang Theory series The Cooper-Benson Exploration :) I'm very excited to incorporate my OC, Claire Benson, into the world of the Big Bang Theory :) I've written some other stories for Doctor Who, Supernatural, Sherlock, Star Trek, Thor, Merlin, Once Upon a Time, and Star Wars for anyone who might be interested ;) I would recommend new readers check the first story in the series, The Friendship Reestablishment first to understand a little more about Claire :)

This story should be about 23 chapters long and will be updated with a 2-day break between chapters. For example, if a chapter was posted Sunday the next one would be Wednesday and then Saturday sort of thing ;) This will also eventually be a Sheldon/OC story however there will be a period where Sheldon and Amy do start to date. I have no plans to turn Amy into a jealous, cruel person when we get to her part of the story. She will approach her feelings as logically as always and may use Penny as a basis, but I will try my very best not to turn her into anything that she isn't or isn't shown to have the potential to be in the show. I will try very hard to stay true to both Sheldon and Amy as much as I can while also having the history my OC will with Sheldon ;)

A quick physical description, Claire is a tall, thin, redhead with grey eyes, she has a more pronounced southern accent than Sheldon. Her outfits of choice are rather mismatched and not quite in style due to her indecisive nature. Sometimes she wears glasses but only when reading or writing ;) To help picture her more, an actress that is similar to how I see Claire in my head is Felicia Day :)

~8~ is a scene break.

Disclaimer: I do not own Big Bang Theory...or Penny and Leonard would have never broken up :)


The Bad Fish Paradigm

Claire looked up from the book she was reading, or more so pretending to read, when she heard the door open, half holding her breath in the hopes that Penny wouldn't notice her panting from where she was sitting at the couch. The less Penny knew about her roommate having spied on her through the peephole of their apartment before sprinting (and nearly tripping) to get to the couch when Penny started to head to the door, the better. Right now she was trying to act like she hadn't just been eavesdropping on Penny's date and it might have worked...if her book hadn't been upside down. Luckily though Penny didn't seem to notice, the blonde seeming lost in thought about her date.

"Good date?" Claire called, startling Penny from her thoughts.

"Ok..." Penny closed her eyes and shook her head, focusing, "R?"

Claire blinked, "R...what?"

"Solving for R?" Penny gave her a pleading look, hoping Claire could explain it to her, much like she'd taken to explaining a lot of the other scientific mumbo jumbo the boys across the hall spouted every time she tried to talk to them, "Something about distance and time?"

Claire laughed, understanding, "R is the rate, how fast you're going or need to go to get to point B from point A by a certain time. Like...if you had to get to work in 10 minutes and it's 5 miles away, how fast would you have to go sort of thing."

"Got it," Penny sighed, moving to plop down on the couch beside her.

"So..." she beamed, DYING to ask, "How did it go?"

Penny smiled softly, thinking about the date she'd just gone on with Leonard, "Really nice actually."

"Spill," Claire shut her book and looked at Penny intently, excitement radiating off her. She needed to focus on this, focus on Penny and her date instead of the bombshell revelation SHE had just had a few hours ago.

Penny grinned, thrilled to have a girl to talk to and leaned to the side to face Claire, gushing about the dinner and how sweet Leonard had been during it.

It...definitely hadn't been like other dates she'd had, nor was Leonard like any other guy she'd dated either.


The next day would find Claire and Sheldon in the laundry room, Claire helping him fold his laundry. He was very...particular (obsessive) about his clothes, how they were washed, when, the temperatures used, how much chemical to add to it, how they were folded, who touched them...and many more. Claire, having grown up with him, knew exactly how he preferred his clothing folded and so he was happy to get the work cut in half and it gave them time to talk without the others around, just them, something that didn't happen as often as he would have liked. Though he doubted how much talking they'd actually be able to do at the moment, Claire seemed rather quiet, thoughtful for some reason.

Claire just smiled at him though, trying not to let on just how much this simple act of helping him fold his laundry was making her think on things. She knew how Sheldon liked his laundry. She even knew the exact amount of detergent to add based on what his laundry consisted of. Penny's words kept ringing in her ears about how much she really knew about Sheldon. She knew more about him than many other best friends would know about each other. She doubted there were pairs out there that knew how the other liked their wash done or clothing folded. But SHE did. That was more information you'd know if you were dating someone, if you'd lived with them, if you saw the insides of their drawers and dressers every day. That wasn't the sort of information a mere friend would know or take into consideration while in a laundry room.

She really did know more about Sheldon than a simple best friend would...and now that she was alone with him, she almost didn't know what to say. Coming to the realization that she might possibly like Sheldon in more than just a friendly capacity was throwing her off quite terribly. She hadn't said a word since agreeing to help him fold. And that wasn't like her. She shouldn't be so off, this was SHELDON. She knew how to talk to him, the topics and word choices that would have him talking for hours or debating with her or rambling and...she hadn't used a single one. It was like she didn't know how to act around him now...

And that wasn't fun.

"Hi," Penny called, entering, causing Claire to let out a breath of relief that the awkward silence that had fallen was over...and that was another thing she wasn't used to, awkward silences with Sheldon.

Sheldon gave more of a sigh of frustration than of relief, there went it being just the two of them, "Oh, hi Penny."

If Penny noticed his lack of enthusiasm, she said nothing.

"Hey Pen," Claire smiled wider than normal, "Just so you know, cold water only in Machine 2 and 4's on the fritz with the liquids."

"Thanks," Penny nodded...and tipped all her laundry into Machine 1.

"Oh, good Lord," Sheldon huffed at the sight, "Why don't you just take your clothes down to the river and beat them with a rock?"

"Sheldon, may I ask you a question?" Penny turned to him, pausing on her way out.

"I would prefer that you not, but I won't go so far as to forbid it."

"That's a yes Pen," Claire told her.

Penny nodded, "Ok, here's my question...has Leonard ever dated, you know, a regular girl?"

"Well I assume you're not referring to digestive regularity?" Sheldon frowned, not understanding the question, "Because I've come to learn that such inquiries are inappropriate."

"No, I meant has he ever been involved with someone who wasn't a braniac? You know, someone normal, like Claire."

Sheldon stiffened and turned to Penny, "Claire isn't normal, she's brilliant!"

"Fine," Penny held up her hands in surrender at that, Claire just laughing quietly at Sheldon's defense of her, "Has Leonard ever dated a girl who wasn't smart?"

"Oh," Sheldon considered it, "Well, a few years ago he did go out with a woman who had a PhD in French Literature."

"How is that not a braniac?" Penny shook her head.

"Well, for one thing, she was French. For another," he smirked at Claire, "It was literature."

Claire rolled her eyes, giving him the same excuse and justification she had every other time he brought that up, "Who do you think wrote, or at least edited, the books and screenplays for the shows you like Shelly? Literature majors. That's who."

"So," Penny cut in, not wanting to hear whatever retort Sheldon had to that, she was really a little nervous about her and Leonard and she was very glad that she'd caught Claire and Sheldon in the same place, she needed a girl's opinion eventually but also needed to ask Sheldon as he knew Leonard longer than she did...she needed to be able to understand his answers though too, "Do you think that if Leonard and I keep dating he'll eventually get bored with me?"

"That depends," Sheldon said before Claire could answer.

"On what?"

"Do you have a working knowledge of quantum physics like Claire?"

"I really don't have..." Claire began, but Penny answered.


"Do you speak Klingon like Claire?"

"Passingly, I speak it passingly," Claire insisted, actually a little embarrassed that she even knew it that much. She was prouder of the fact that she'd learned Elvish than Klingon.

"No," Penny frowned.

"Do you know any card tricks?"

"Ok, ok, you know, I get it," Penny huffed, "Leonard has no business being involved with a waitress/actress who felt so insecure that she lied to him about finishing community college."

"Pen that is not true at all," Claire moved over to her, putting an arm around Penny's shoulders.

Sheldon however was more focused on, "Why would you lie about that?"

"Well," Penny sighed, leaning on Claire, "He was going on and on about this college and that grad school and I didn't want him to think I was some stupid loser."

"And you thought the opposite of stupid loser was community college graduate?"

"You know, there are a lot of successful people in this country who are community college graduates!" Penny defended.

"Yeah, but you were neither."

"BUT," Claire cut in, giving Sheldon a look, "Hundreds of people who are college dropouts ended up being very successful. Like Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, or Brad Pitt..."

"Brad Pitt, really?" Penny looked at her.

"Was going to get a journalism degree," Claire nodded, having wanted to add in a successful actor for the future-actress, "Dropped out two weeks before graduation, I think."

"Huh," Penny murmured, not having known that before, but then she shook her head, focusing on her and Leonard, "Ok look, this is between you two and me, you cannot tell Leonard any of this."

"Oh no," Claire groaned with a small wince.


"You're asking me to keep a secret?" Sheldon began, sounding quite offended.

Penny stared at him, "Yeah?"

"Well I'm sorry, but you should have expressed that desire before revealing the secret, so that I could choose whether or not I wanted to accept the covenant of secret keeping. You can't impose a secret on an ex post facto basis!"

"What?" Penny looked at Claire.

"He means you can't tell him to keep a secret after you've told him what the secret is. You should have started with can you keep a secret incase he really can't keep one. And trust me, he can't."

Sheldon nodded, "Secret keeping is a complicated endeavor. One has to be concerned not only about what one says, but about facial expression, autonomic reflexes...when I try to deceive, I myself have more nervous tics than a Lyme disease research facility," he stared at her.

"It was a joke," Claire whispered and Penny gave a confused chuckle, though both girls were also aware that Sheldon hadn't mentioned his other tells, like how he'd slow down his speech and other little tidbits, which was just as well, they weren't about to tell him about them incase he tried to hide them in the future.

"It relies on the homonymic relationship between tick, the blood-sucking arachnid, and tic, the involuntary muscular contraction," Sheldon smiled, "I made it up myself."

"Ok," Penny shook her head, "Look, if Leonard finds out that I lied I will absolutely die of embarrassment."

"Physiologically impossible."

"Oh Sheldon, please!" Penny cried, "Look, I'm asking you as a friend..."

"So you're saying that friendship contains within it an inherent obligation to maintain confidences?"

"Our friendship agreement does, and that's just a more formal version of a normal friendship Shelly," Claire told him.

"Oh," he paused, thinking, "Interesting. See, one more question, and perhaps I should have led with this..." he looked at Penny, "When did we become friends?"

Penny sighed, "When Claire moved in with me. We became friends by association."

"Oh," he nodded, "Fascinating."


"I.e. I couldn't become Green Lantern unless I was chosen by the Guardians of Oa," Sheldon was saying as he and Leonard walked up the stairs to their apartment, having had a rousing discussion about how exactly to become a superhero or which would be more plausible in the real world, "But given enough start-up capital and an adequate research facility, I could be Batman."

"You could be Batman?" Leonard laughed, just trying to imagine the thin, gangly, germophobic Sheldon Cooper trying to fight crime in the dead of night.

"Sure," Sheldon remarked, not seeing the issue in it, before lowering his voice to a near growled, "I'm Batman," and letting it return to normal, "See."

Leonard had just opened his mouth to say there was more to being Batman than disguising your voice when Penny stepped out of her apartment, "Hi guys."

"Hey," Leonard smiled.

Sheldon just shifted nervously, "Hi Penny."

"Hey, Penny, if you're not doing anything Friday night I thought maybe we could go and see a movie?"

"Oh, um, you know," Penny fished, "Claire and I were planning to have a girl's night in..."

"Oh, that's fine," Leonard nodded, "What about Saturday?"

"I think I might have the dinner shift then," she frowned, "I'm not sure though, the manager hasn't posted the schedule yet, how about I let you know?"

"Great. So you just let me know when you know," he nodded, following her as she headed down the stairs, "So…" till she disappeared, "Oh God, I am the bad fish! What did I do wrong?" he had been trying to convince himself the date went well and that he had a chance with Penny but now it seemed like she was avoiding him.

"Why are you asking me?" Sheldon defended, turning to quickly try and get the door to the apartment open, "I have no information about your interactions with Penny other than what you provided me, nor do I have any method of learning such things," and rushing into the apartment.

"What about Claire?" Leonard followed him.

"What about Claire?" he asked, pulling his bag off and placing it by his desk.

"She's your best friend, she's Penny's roommate, you both talk to HER, does she know?"

"I believe Claire would call that a breach of the proverbial 'girl code' and refuse to say," Sheldon remarked, "You seem to be implying an additional informational back channel between me and Penny where obviously none exists."

"No I didn't," Leonard frowned.

"I just think you need to be careful how you phrase things, sir!"

"What's going on with you?" Leonard eyed him oddly.

"Well I might ask you the same question. Why do you insist on attempting to drag me into matters which have nothing to do with me but exist between you and Penny? A person to whom I barely speak," his eye started twitching.

"What's wrong with your face?"

"There's no reason to bring my looks into this!"

Leonard paused a moment before backing out of the room and across the hall, knocking on Penny's door.

"Oh hey Leonard," Claire greeted as she opened the door, a granola bar in her hand, "What's up?"

"I think I might need your expertise on all things Sheldon," he said.

"Ok?" she frowned, confused, but followed him back to the apartment where Sheldon was still standing there, his face twitching even worse.

"Can you explain that?" Leonard pointed at Sheldon, gesturing at him in general.

Claire hesitated in answering, knowing she could likely guess exactly what was bothering him just from how he was ticking. He was trying not to have to lie to Leonard by avoiding the question entirely. When he was actively lying he tended to slow down his speech, but when he was getting uncomfortably close to lying but trying to avoid it, he would twitch. She really DID know Sheldon didn't she?

She sighed and shook her head, "He's uncomfortable."

"With what?"

She shrugged, always had been better at keeping a secrets than Sheldon...more so when there was other reasons she could give in a lie that were at least partly true. She could say that he was uncomfortable with his shirt, with something he just ate, with thinking of a particular scientific formula...until she knew what was actually being discussed, she wouldn't have to actually answer with a lie.

"She can't tell you either as that would be a breach of our best friend agreement," Sheldon called, before turning and practically running to hide in his room.

"Please?" Leonard turned to her.

"I really couldn't find the words to explain what's wrong with Sheldon," Claire told him.

Leonard had to nod at that.


"Also today we have a fresh caught Alaska salmon, and that's served with a teriyaki glaze and sticky rice," Penny was explaining to a small family in the Cheesecake Factory, "Our soup of the day…"

"You must release me from my oath," Sheldon ran up to her, Claire shaking her head as she walked over as well, having accompanied him there on the bus systems as he hadn't wanted to go alone.

It was...a more nerve wracking and quiet experience than she could remember sharing with Sheldon, the two of them cramped into the seats of the bus, sitting so close their legs brushed. Why did things have to make her so much more aware of Sheldon now that she was starting to think she liked him more than she should as his friend. She had been on edge the entire ride over and far too conscious of how close they were sitting...

"Sheldon, I'm working," Penny hissed at him.

"Why don't you take a minute to decide," he told the family, before leading Penny over to Claire, "I can't keep your secret Penny. Ask Claire. I'm going to fold like an energy based anobo protein in conformational space. Like a renaissance triptych. Like a cheap suit!"

"He really doesn't do well under pressure," Claire had to agree, absently reaching out to rub his arm.

"Oh, look, why is it so hard for you to keep one little secret?" Penny asked him, too frustrated to notice that Sheldon was letting Claire touch him when he usually shied away from touch.

"I'm constitutionally incapable," Sheldon informed her.

"He lost a chance to work with a very prestigious government research fellowship at a secret military supercollider because of it," Claire told her.

Sheldon nodded, "I couldn't keep the location, beneath a fake agricultural station 12.5 miles south east of Traverse City, Michigan, a secret," he remarked before realizing what he'd said, "Which you did not hear about from me."

"Look, just forget I told you about me not graduating from community college," Penny sighed, "Ok?"

"Forget!? You want me to forget? This mind does not forget," he poked at his head, "I haven't forgotten a single thing since the day my mother stopped breast feeding me," he was silent a moment, thinking on it, "It was a drizzly Tuesday..."

"You may want to stop there, Shelly," Claire grimaced, no matter how much she might actually like Sheldon, she did NOT like him enough to listen to a recounting of him being breast fed.

"Ok, look," Penny huffed, "You promised me you would keep my secret so you're just going to have to figure out a way to do it."


"Leonard, I'm moving out," Sheldon called as he entered the apartment later that day, having just gotten back from speaking to Penny.

"What do you mean, you're moving out?" Leonard turned to look at him from where he was working at his desk, "Why?"

"There doesn't have to be a reason."

"Yeah, there kind of does."

"Not necessarily. This is a classic example of Munchausen's trilemma," he stated, "Either the reason is predicated on a series of sub-reasons leading to an infinite regression, or it tracks back to arbitrary axiomatic statements, or it's ultimately circular, i.e. I'm moving out because I'm moving out."

"I'm still confused," Leonard shook his head.

"Leonard, I don't see how I could have made it any simpler."

"Hey, qu'est-ce que sup?" Howard called as he and Raj entered.

"We just got back from that exhibit of those plasticized human cadavers," Raj grinned.

"And some of those skinless chicks were hot."

"If you'll excuse me, I'm going to pack," Sheldon nodded, seeing an out, and headed to his room.

"That's kind of an overreaction to a little harmless necrophilia..."

"Not you Howie," Claire explained as she entered from behind them, her phone out, "Though that is very disturbing that you'd call any sort of necrophilia harmless," and whacked him on the arm absently for good measure, not taking her eyes off her phone till she looked up at Leonard, holding it up to him, "Shelly texted me that he needs help packing?"

Leonard sighed, "He says he's moving out."

"Oh Leonard," Claire chuckled, "Did you change the contrast and/or brightness on the TV, sugar?"

"No," Leonard frowned.

"Rip a band aid off in front of him?"


"Buy generic ketchup? Forget to rinse the sink? Talk to him through the bathroom door? Adjust the thermostat? Cook with cilantro? Pronounce the T in often?"


"Leonard...did you make fun of trains?" she asked him, very serious.

"I didn't do anything!" Leonard defended, though it was rather funny how well she knew Sheldon, "He's just gone insane!"

Raj turned and whispered in Howard's ear, "Yeah, we all knew this day was coming too," Howard nodded.

"He's not insane," Claire rolled her eyes, "His mother had him tested for that. He's fine."

"That was fast," Leonard noted as he saw Sheldon enter with a bag over his shoulder.

"That's his pre-packed disaster evacuation bag," Claire recognized it, she was the one who got it for him, a 'Saturnalia' gift if she wasn't mistaken.

"Recommended by the Department of Homeland Security and Claire," Sheldon nodded.

"And Sarah Connor," Claire smiled, she wasn't much a fan of the Terminator movies, but she did think Sarah was fairly cool.

"Where are you gonna live?" Leonard asked, "Claire and Penny's apartment is too small and you don't like how messy it is..."

"Until I find a permanent place I will stay with friends," Sheldon turned to look expectantly at Howard and Raj.

"Bye!" Howard ran out, leaving Raj alone to face Sheldon.

Raj hurried to Leonard's desk and grabbed the whiteboard off it, quickly writing, 'You can't stay with me, I have a teeny tiny apartment!'

"Excuse me," Sheldon huffed, "But isn't hosting guests an aspect of Manushya Yajna, one of the five central religious duties or sacrifices of the Hindu householder?"

Raj was silent before erasing his message to write, 'I hate trains.'

"Don't be ridiculous, you love trains."

Raj sighed, nodding, knowing he'd been beaten.

Sheldon moved to the door and dropped his keys to the apartment into the bowl that was resting there, "Claire, would you mind helping Leonard pack up the rest of my things? You're the only one I trust to make sure he doesn't break or steal them."

Claire sighed, "No problem Shelly."

Leonard looked at her as Sheldon and Raj disappeared out the door, "You're not serious..."

"Course I'm not," she scoffed, "Shelly doesn't do very well with rash decisions. I give him till tonight before Raj brings him back before he kills him."

"I know that feeling."

"Funny," Claire murmured, thinking of the few times she and Sheldon had shared a living space, when they were kids and staying over each other's houses, or hosting the other during a holiday, "I don't."

Oh dear lord, she really DID like Sheldon if the thought of killing him hadn't ever really crossed her mind...


Leonard was awoken in the middle of the night by a frantic knocking at the front door and shuffled his way over in his robe and socks, "I'm coming!" he called, still half asleep...which faded quickly when he opened it to only for Sheldon to nearly fall inside, in his pajamas, Howard beside him with a bag and looking on the verge of actually killing Sheldon.

"Hey, there he is, there's my old buddy-bud-bud," Sheldon patted him on the shoulder before stumbling in, clearly out of it.

"What's with him?" Leonard pointed back at Sheldon.

"Koothrappali dumped him on me," Howard explained, "And he couldn't get to sleep..." clearly there was more to it than that, "So I gave him a glass of warm milk with a handful of my mom's Valium in it. But he still wouldn't shut up, so, tag, you're it," he dropped Sheldon's bag on the floor and turned to storm off.

"I'm ba-ack!" Sheldon called loopily, half stumbling into the armchair as though he didn't realize it was behind him.

"I still don't know why you left," Leonard remarked, pulling the bag in and shutting the door, pulling out his phone to text Claire, not about to deal with a drugged Sheldon by himself.

"I can't tell you," Sheldon put a finger to his lips and started to sway a bit, seeming to be looking over each shoulder to make sure the armchair was still there.

"Why not?"

"I promised Penny," and then he fell into the armchair with a laugh.

"You promised Penny what?"

"That I wouldn't tell you the secret," he whispered, before someone knocked on the door again, gentler than before, and Leonard went to open it, "Shhhhh!" Sheldon called, his finger to his lips again.

"Oh Shelly," Claire sighed, yawning as she stepped in, already able to see something off with him, "What happened Leonard?"

"Howard drugged his milk," Leonard explained.

"All this over a stupid secret," she muttered, moving to sit on the armrest beside Sheldon, her arm moving around his shoulders more to balance him as he seemed rather unsteady even just sitting. Sheldon quickly turned and leaned on her, almost cuddling up on the chair beside her, closing his eyes and drifting off with his arms wrapped around her middle, making both Claire and Leonard's eyebrow raise at the action of him trying to cuddle her like a teddy bear.

"What secret?" Leonard asked, moving to sit on the coffee table, "Tell me the secret."

Sheldon blinked blearily, looking at Leonard, "Mom smokes in the car. Jesus is ok with it, but we can't tell Dad."

"Not that secret, the other secret."

"Claire smells nice," Sheldon murmured, turning to nuzzle his nose into her middle.

"Not really a secret there," Leonard huffed.

"Aw thanks Leonard," Claire tried to smile but ended up yawning.

"Sheldon, just tell me the secret..."

"I'm Batman!" he cried, his voice deep as Claire laughed, making him put his finger to his lips at her, "Shhhhh!"

"Damn it, Sheldon! You said Penny told you a secret, what was the secret?"

Sheldon still seemed to struggle with saying, so Leonard looked at Claire. She sighed, knowing it would just get worse for Sheldon if he didn't tell, he would end up spilling more secrets, actual secrets, or what others would consider secrets that he didn't, and he'd regret it come morning to know he let so much else slip, "Shelly why don't we tell him if he promises not to tell Leonard?"

"Ok," Sheldon nodded.

"Leonard?" she gave him a look.

He shook his head at how ridiculous this all was, but said, "I promise."

"Penny lied about graduating from community college because she is afraid she's not smart enough for Leonard," Sheldon said quickly in one go.

"So it's nothing I did? It's her problem?" Leonard remarked.

Sheldon just looked up at Claire, "I drank milk that tasted funny."

"Aww, poor baby," she cooed jokingly, running a hand through his hair as he smiled dazedly up at her, "Why don't we get you to bed, Shelly? You'll feel better in the morning."


"Penny thinks I'm too smart for her, that's ridiculous," Leonard smiled, standing to help Claire get him up.

"I know," Sheldon swayed between them, nearly pitching forward as he tried to take a step, stopped only by Claire's hand on his chest, "Most of your work is extremely derivative. Don't worry, that's not a secret. Everybody knows."

"Bed Shelly," Claire led him down the hall.

"Your hand is warm," Sheldon remarked, reaching out to put his hand over hers on his chest, "It feels nice."

"I'm glad," Claire nodded him on, "Bedtime."

"Will you sing me 'Soft Kitty?'"

"That's for when you're sick."

"Drugged is a kind of sick," he pouted, "My tummy hurts."

She sighed, "Then of course I'll sing you 'Soft Kitty,' Shelly."

"I like it when you sing to me," he continued to let it pour out of him, "Your voice is flat and your pitch is off but it sounds good to me."

"Thank you, Shelly. Bed."

"I like when you call me Shelly," he leaned more on her, his eyes starting to close as he rested his head on her shoulder, "You're the only one that can call me that."

"Just like you're the only one that calls me Claire-Bear," she reminded him, "It's our agreement."

Sheldon yawned as they reached his room, "I'd let you call me Shelly even without our contract," he mumbled, pushing the door open and shuffling inside.

Claire shook her head as he went inside, he really was NOT helping her being all sweetie pie when he was drugged.

Leonard eyed Sheldon oddly for everything he'd said and looked at Claire, "Is that normal?" he pointed at the door.

She sighed, "I wouldn't know," she huffed, "He's never been quite that drugged before," she leaned in to make sure he'd made it to the bed ok and sighed, "Help me shift him?"

Sheldon had fallen face down on the bed and was lying there unmoving, best to get him on his back so he wouldn't suffocate himself.

There was quite a line of people that would have wanted that honor themselves.


Penny looked over from where she and Claire were eating some cereal when there was a knock on the door, or where she was eating and keeping an eye on Claire as the redhead seemed an inch away from her head falling off the hand she was resting it on and going right into her cereal bowl she seemed exhausted. She quickly got up and went to answer it, seeing Claire jerk awake a little more and resume eating, "Hey Leonard," she greeted, seeing him on the other side of it.

"Yeah, hi, listen," Leonard took a breath, "I know what's been bothering you about us, and I have the answer."

"What are you talking about?"

"Right," he winced, "Don't blame Sheldon. He tried his best to keep your secret, and if Howard hadn't drugged him he would have taken it to his grave."

Penny shook her head at the drugging part, guessing that was where Claire had been last night that kept her up so much she was falling asleep now, "He told you?"

"Yes," Leonard nodded, "But it's ok. Now that we know what the problem is, there's a simple solution!" he handed her a brochure.

Penny blinked at it, "Pasadena City College?"

"A place for fun, a place for knowledge. See," he tapped a picture on the pamphlet, "This man here's playing hacky-sack, and this girl's going to be a paralegal."

"Wow," Penny remarked dryly, a hint of anger in her voice, "I get it. Because Dr. Leonard Hofstadter can't date a girl without a fancy college degree."

"Well, it's really not that fancy, it's just a city college..."

"Right, but I have to have some sort of degree to date you?" she crossed her arms.

"That doesn't matter to me at all."

"So, it's fine with you if I'm not smart."

"Absolutely," he grinned, not realizing he'd just 'admitted' he didn't think she was smart.

Penny just slammed the door in his face.

"Ok," she heard him say on the other side of the door, "This time I know where I went wrong."

Penny shook her head at him and turned around, her irritated expression falling to compassioned concern at the sight before her, "Oh sweetie," she sighed, moving over to Claire and pulling the girl's face out of her cereal bowl before she drowned in it.

A/N: Lol, good friend Penny there to save Claire from drowning :) And awww, drugged-Sheldon may have attempted to semi-flirt/hit on Claire :)

Just a reminder, for just the start of this story, I'll be posting the next chapter on Monday and then resuming the 2-day break between chapters ;)

And, one last note, now that Claire sort of realizes that she may like Sheldon (whether or not she may try to convince herself it was just Penny getting in her head or explore how much she really DOES like Sheldon is yet to be seen), I was thinking it would be a good time to think on pairing names :) I try to, for most stories, leave that up to the readers :) So if you have a pairing name for Sheldon Cooper and Claire Benson, drop a review or a PM or ask me on tumblr if you'd like and let's say...by next Saturday, I'll put them all together and put a poll up on Sunday to vote for which name you'd like to be Claire and Sheldon's official pairing name ;)

Some notes on reviews...(from the end of TFR)...

Amy comes in the end of Season 3 and becomes more of a regular occurrence in the seasons after :)