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***Somewhere in Downtown LA
Rain pounded down on asphalt that was melting from underneath, as if the earth itself was boiling.
Angel looked at his soldiers, his earlier determination faltering a little as he saw their ravaged faces. Gunn was barely standing, held up both by a combination of a sheer force of will, and Spike. Illyria’s expression was a mask of rage and grief, beautiful and terrible to behold all at once.
The absence of Wesley hurt like a raw wound.
“I wish to do more violence,” Illyria stated, her voice filled with human inflections of pain, sounding everything and nothing like Fred.
“Well wishes just happen to be horses today...” Spike quipped, gesturing towards the approaching horde.
“Among other things,” Angel muttered as he looked at their countless foes, momentarily deaf to all else as he considered the destruction he hadn’t truly meant to bring down on his city. He wondered if Connor made it home safely and wondered if he would ever see his son again. Should have figured that it would take an apocalypse to buy Connor’s forgiveness…
“…of a plan?” he heard Spike ask.
“We fight.” He stated.
“Bit more specific.”
Angel gripped his axe. It was too late to turn back now. Grimly, he pronounced, “Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon.” He sucked in an unneeded breath. “Let’s go to work.”
His blade sang...
***10 Miles Away
Penny was getting herself a cup of warm milk on Wednesday night when Hell peeled back the sky of Southern California. As in, Hell, the one Sheldon’s mother had apparently warned him about. She watched in abject horror, fingers still clutching at her mug’s curved handle, as the moon became blood red and the sky went from being the darkest indigo, to a terrible scarlet.
Downstairs, she could hear people in the street screaming. It was a chorus that only grew as the minutes ticked by. Strange creatures seemed to fall out of the sky, some taking flight on massive scaled wings, some falling to the ground and spreading more death and terror with every step they took. Things she had only ever imagined could exist in the darkest recesses of humanity’s nightmares emerged from the alleyways close by, pouncing on the panicked crowd.
Someone was at her door.
(Knock, knock, knock)
(Knock, knock, knock)“Penny,”
(Knock, knock, knock)
The mug slipped from her fingers at last, crashing to the ground in a million pieces, hot white liquid splashing everywhere. But she was beyond caring. Instead, she was opening the door and yanking Sheldon inside.
“I was doing a raid with my guild when my server shut down and I got disconnected from the internet.” He started frantically. “That’s when I heard the screams. Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. Are you
ok? Where’s Leonard?” Penny asked, bolting down the entrance to her home.
“Leonard’s working overnight again at Caltech,” Sheldon responded. She turned to look at him, finally noticing the sawn off shot-gun he was holding in his hands. And the samurai sword strapped to his back, together with his ‘Bug-Out’ backpack.
“Sheldon, where did you get the gun?” she asked.
“My Meemaw sent it to me last Christmas.” Sheldon said. “It’s the classic Texan holiday gift.”
“And the sword?” she asked, and was suddenly conscious of the fact that she was only wearing a tank top and her underwear. She brushed past him, heading into the bedroom; thankfully, he didn’t follow. Instead, he crept towards the window, looking outside at the tableau of horror.
“I ordered that online last month. It seemed like a logical purchase.” He replied, and even then, even in the midst of all the chaos and fear that was present in every breath she took, she managed to smile. Pulling on a pair of jeans, she considered her underwear drawer for a second, before digging into it and pulling out a weapon she had whittled a long time ago, but never had to use since.
“Penny, it could be the panic in me speaking, but are you holding a wooden stake?” Sheldon asked.
Turning, she studied his confused expression.
“What do you know about vampires?” she asked at last, finding her voice.
“They’re a fictional trope that appeared in many folk tales the world over, before being translated into a fixture in popular culture as we know it.” He responded, looking at her as if she was the one who had lost her mind. It was new, the concept of Sheldon thinking she was the crazy one for a change.
“Vampires exist and the things that go bump in the night are trying to kill you
," Penny quoted from memory.
“Look out the window again Sheldon. If you don’t believe me, you can at least believe the…what would you call it, Empirical Evidence?” Penny gripped her stake just a little tighter.
Her neighbor didn’t know if he ought to be shocked at the fact that she knew what “Empirical Evidence” meant, or if he ought to believe what she was telling him. Taking pity, she reached a hand out to touch him, noting that her hands were shaking uncontrollably. She opened her mouth to say something, but realized at the last second that she didn’t have anything more to add. Not really.
“We should go. Get away from here.” he said.
She approached her living room window and looked out again. Demonic creatures stalked the streets outside, among limp human bodies that lay mangled and drained on the ground. Giant scaled tentacles seemed to be emerging from cracks that had appeared in the ground, waving languidly in the air, wrapping themselves around destroyed cars and ruined debris…the arms of Hell
, Penny thought, reaching out to hold us closer
. The air smelled like an abattoir, all bloody flesh and iron, tinged with a burning quality that stung her eyes and her throat.
“Sulfur,” Sheldon said, coming up behind her. She looked up, into his glassy eyes as he seemed to come to terms with the only possible explanation about what just happened to their world. He added pointlessly, “That’s what you’re smelling - sulfur.”
“Sheldon…where would we even go?” she asked. “How would we get there?”
For once, the genius had no answer for her. Instead, he reached for her curtain cord with trembling fingers, and pulled, obscuring them from the world outside.
The two of them stayed silent, listening to the muffled cries for help emanating from their neighbours as they attempted to escape the building. Sheldon pointed his gun diligently at the front door, waiting for the first invaders to come through.
Penny wanted to know why they seemed to be avoiding attack, but she didn’t dare speak.
“If they were supernatural creatures, as you so firmly believe, they should have sniffed us out by now,” Sheldon murmured once. She wanted to hit him for his hardheadedness, his inability to admit that his neat little universe just had its foundations pulled out from under it.
“Unless the smell that clogs our nostrils affects their senses as well.” He added, and she couldn’t miss the bitter note in his voice. She could understand that, at least.
“Help will come.” She kept repeating under her breath, trying to sound like she believed it.
She was surprised when his warm, dry hand eventually found hers, albeit awkward and tentatively, though his eyes remained fixed on the door. Huddled beside each other, they remained in that position until one whole day after all the noises had finally died down, and they remembered at last that they were hungry and thirsty.
In his hand, Penny’s palm was unpleasantly clammy, so tense that he was starting to become worried she might pull a nerve. He would have smiled at her, trying to re-assure her, if he didn’t think that it would simply have been an empty gesture. There was nothing he could offer in terms of comfort. At least, not without a measure of dishonesty.
They needed to get out of the building. They needed to get out of the city, the state, the country, maybe even off the planet. He had been expecting something like this for as long as anyone knew, with his emergency bags (items colour coded than categorically organized) and the weaponry he collected. Hell, even as a child, he’d put together a small backpack of comic books, juice packs, canned tuna and band-aids, just in case something horrible broke through the flimsy fence surrounding the trailer park attempting to devour all in its jaws of doom.
Now that the ground had cracked apart and the things that had hidden underneath for eons were crawling out of their pits, it occurred to him that he still wasn’t ready
, despite all his prep work.
Penny wasn’t going to be persuaded to leave – not soon. The mantra she kept repeating told him everything he needed to know – she was still living under the assumption that the world continued to operate under a system of order. Penny wasn’t stupid. She was simply human, clinging to the familiar.
Sheldon might be opposed to making changes in his life, abiding by a code of order and patterns that defined every single action in his existence. Nonetheless, his emergency duffel bags were testament to the fact that he was ready to shed everything, every last ingrained habit, if it meant he’d survive.
Well. Almost everything.
Experimentally, Sheldon squeezed Penny’s hand – according to several relevant works of fiction he’d read, gestures like that were suppose to help.
The last thing Penny would have expected to be grateful for, was the fact that Sheldon and Leonard had been giant gamers. The kind that sat at their computers for forty-eight hours, repeating raid after raid, waiting for that one epic drop that would complete their armour set for their Level 80 Rogues, or their Warriors. This meant that they were also the kind of geeks who stocked their kitchen with Meal Replacement packs and canned food. And because Sheldon refused to drink tap water, something that wasn’t even an option anymore now that the faucets only ran blood, they had a case of bottled water to work with.
The skin-crawling and overwhelming horror remained. Every alien noise not made by either of them sent them ducking for cover under his computer table or the kitchen counter (they snuck over to his
apartment the moment they thought they could get away with it – as if she didn’t see that
“Let’s say I believe that Hell has indeed been inflicted on this plane of existence.” Sheldon started quietly out of the blue, his eyes fixed on his whiteboard filled with scribbles. “Let’s say that everything we knew about science, about the physics in our universe wasn’t complete.”
She waited for him to continue.
“As you know, I’ve long posited the idea that there are alternate dimensions parallel to ours. Is it not possible that what we consider to be ‘Hell’ is simply another dimension colliding with ours somehow, in the space-time continuum?” his hands began gesturing wildly. For a second, Penny wondered if he was finally going mad, then reminded herself that even when the world wasn’t so fucked over, he tended to behave like that.
“If a gap had been allowed to open, to allow this infringement between realities to occur, it would be reasonable to assume that there must have been an event to trigger this otherwise unprecedented situation. It would not be unreasonable to assume that there was a set structure of actions that took place to cause this event, which point to the possibility that there should therefore, by all logic, be a set of actions that can reverse this unfortunate collision of parallel universes.”
“You’re looking for logic?” Penny questioned.
“Yes.” He looked down.
“I don’t know that you’ll find it.”
“It’s the only thing I know how to do – to find a reasonable, logical, scientific explanation.” He responded, voice even quieter than before.
“That’s not true.”
He looked at her questioningly.
“You still know how to confuse the bajeezus outta me.” She informed him, forcing herself to smile. He must have appreciated the gesture, because he allowed her to rest her head against his shoulder. Awkwardly, he patted her hand.
“There there.” He murmured. After a while, he added, “I’ve shot monsters on my screen. Decimated entire cells of demons on the console…never imagined for one second that I might hafta do it for real.”
“Sheldon?” she whispered.
“Do you think the boys are safe?” she asked, trying to fight the tears in her voice. “They’re smart. They must have survived right?”
“They did.” He responded, sounding determined. “They must have.”
“Howard’s probably trying to hit on some poor terrified girl,” she joked weakly.
“Koothrappali is probably grateful he finally has a valid excuse not to call his parents.” He said.
“Leonard’s probably tried to make his own Star Wars action figures by now.” She added.
“What do you think happened to our families?” he asked. “Do you think this is a planet-wide thing? Or is it just us?”
They fell silent, all cheer seeping out their bodies as quickly as it came.
“We’ll have to raid a store.” Sheldon said on the seventh day, staring at their last two bottles of water.
“The closest store is the gas station. And that’s assuming it hasn’t been cleaned out.” Penny replied, idly studying the minor scruff that was developing on his chin. There was a moment of hesitation, and she could tell that what he said was going to be distasteful.
If she could bring herself to laugh, she would have. This was a world in which Sheldon held himself back from speaking the truth, because it offended someone.
“We haven’t heard anything at all in our building over the last few days. Do you think, in the other apartments…”
At best, they’d find water, and even other survivors. At worst…at worst they’d be gutted by demons, or shot by over-cautious residents.
“Let me go get dressed.” She said.
It took them five minutes to make it back to Apartment 4B, what with the checking and re-checking, the anxiety and fear crippling their every move.
Penny put on her thickest pair of socks, and rummaged around her closet for the combat boots she had purchased months ago on a whim. Lacing them up over her jeans, she shoved the wooden stake into the side of her boots.
She reached deep into her closet and pulled out the gift she had given herself a few years ago - a wooden crossbow. The weapon was polished and well maintained, light enough for her to balance, but obviously capable of considerable damage if used right. Sheldon seemed to resist an urge to twitch, as she located her quiver of wooden bolts.
“I never knew you were a collector of medieval weaponry,” Sheldon said from her doorway. “I own one myself, but figured realistically, shotguns did more damage.”
“Aside from a stake, there probably ain’t nothing better when dealin’ with vampires.” She whispered back, letting a bit of Omaha-Penny slip out as she strapped her ammunition to her back, dumping the crossbow on the bed momentarily. Quickly, she pulled her hair into a tight ponytail, forcing her breathing to stay even.
“I’m ready.” She said, turning at last to Sheldon who still stared at her with new eyes, as if he didn’t recognize her. They didn’t budge to leave.
Penny sat down on the bed, sliding the crossbow onto her lap. She patted the spot next to her, and waited until he sat down.
“Sheldon, I ever tell you about my first few years in California?”
“You researched the supernatural underbelly of our society after your first encounters with them?” Sheldon whispered furiously as they began to sneak out their door.
? You opened a book, and conducted searches on electronic databases?” he asked, sounding completely incredulous.
“Yes ok? There’s a whole website about Demons. Called Demons, Demons, Demons
actually. That’s where I found out about the whole invitation thing.”
“How can you be sure it isn’t all hokum?”
They were standing between apartments 4A and 4B now, and Penny felt incredibly exposed.
“Because they seem to know what they’re talking about. There are even support groups for victims of vampire attacks. I went to one.”
“I still don’t see how that makes them trustworthy.”
She deserved an award for not smacking him. Apparently, Sheldon found time to be a bitch even when the world was ending. They both kept their eyes studiously ahead, in an effort to avoid the marks on the floor where some battered body had been dragged across. Dull red splatters decorated the walls of the stairway as they ventured upwards. The every present odour of rotting meat seemed to get stronger with every step, and it took every ounce of strength not to gag.
On the bright side, nothing else seemed to stir within the building aside from the both of them.
“You sure you know how to use that thing?” Penny asked, looking over at Sheldon’s shotgun. He cast her a withering look.
“You sure you know how to use a crossbow?” he retorted.
“Honestly? No. I never did have a chance to practice.”
“Oh.” He looked alarmed. “Well, that’s…swell.”
Penny reconsidered. Sheldon deserved an award for being able to make her smile while the world was ending.
Apartment 7B was carpeted in a thick layer of body parts and decimated lumps that might once have been human organs. The former resident stared at them out of rotting eye sockets from the corner of the living room, emptied of their burden. The only things alive within the apartment were the maggots feasting on what remained.
Penny fell to her knees, retching acid from her gut.
Without a word about limited supplies, Sheldon uncapped one of the bottles of water they had successfully located, and passed it to her. If he felt the same urge to vomit up the contents of his gut, he was certainly controlling it well.
“I think we have enough to keep us going for now.” He said, hoisting her to her feet after a few minutes. Shuddering in his arms, it was apparent that she had temporarily lost the ability to walk. With uncharacteristic gentleness, he swept her legs up from under her, and carefully brought her back down to their home.
Even as he approached his own door, he was already considering the best possible way to get them out of the building, knowing that their days of hiding from the reality of the outside world were numbered.
Her face was buried in his neck, and even under the layers of grime and sweat that had accumulated, she could smell that scent that was distinctively Sheldon
Something that he would never know, and will never know, if she had it her way: during the summer he spent in the Arctic, when she was alone and missing the sounds of Halo and Rock Band drifting over from next door, she would let herself into 4A.
At first, she’d tell herself that she really just wanted to make sure their plants were still alive (he had left specific instructions after all). She would dust here and there, telling herself it was her good deed for the year, and God knows, she wouldn’t hear the end of his snark if she didn’t even try keeping his place clean.
Until she found herself sitting on his bed, surrounded by his things, by the sheets that hadn’t yet lost that Sheldon
It took every last ounce of willpower to remind herself that Leonard was the one she ought to be missing. The one who looked at her as if she were some kind of fairy tale princess come to life.
Funny. The only thing that came true from those stupid tales were the monsters, she thought, as he set her down gently on his leather sofa.
“You’re going to have to develop some form of coping mechanism. We can’t have you falling apart every time we deal with a situation like that – something I suspect, we’re going to have to face on a regular basis from now on.” He said commandingly.
“Fuck you Sheldon.” She replied, annoyed at his tone.
“What if I don’t want to get used to it? Why should I get used to this fucking nightmare we’re living in?” she demanded, her voice beginning to rise a little.
“Because we have to. Because in case you haven’t noticed, no one’s coming to help us. If we’re going to survive, we’re going to need to get better at this.” He snapped angrily. “You’re
going to need to get better at this.”
“Why is it that always somehow my fault?” she asked heatedly. “You won’t even believe me when I say that we’ve been invaded by a demonic force. It’s because you think I’m an idiot!”
“No don’t fucking ‘Penny’ me,” she was losing the thread of her thoughts, leaving only a frustrated mess. “It’s got to be hard, being stuck with someone as intellectually inferior as me. Just for once Cooper, can’t you acknowledge that I’m not the most fucking useless person in the room? If it weren’t for me, you’d have run out into the open by now, getting yourself killed…”
She would have continued, if Sheldon hadn’t chosen that moment to end her tirade with a kiss. His arms wrapped around her in a crushing embrace, utterly different from the tentative and awkward hugs of before. His mouth vied for supremacy and won as he deepened the kiss, eliciting a strangled moan from deep in her throat. When at last he pulled away, he said,
“If I started telling you all the things I admired about you, I would never have been able to stop.”
“And now?” she asked breathlessly.
“And now…and now I have nothing to lose.” He smiled a smile tinged with regret. “Now I look at you and think of all the times I had you close, but never touched you. Never told you how frakking amazing you are. It helps that you’re the first person to ever beat me at Halo.”
“All this time. I didn’t even think you realized I was a woman.” She felt foolish. It was the end of all things, and all she wanted was to keep making out with him.
“Would it have helped if I had made you aware of how I felt?” there was a note of earnestness in his voice. “Would you have forsaken others for me? Would you have left Leonard?”
If she could turn back time, if there was only a way, she would have told him the day she met him all the things she could only admit to herself now, instead of wasting three years of their lives so close but too far apart. As it was, she gaze at him in bittersweet longing as she listened to him speak in a way that was so completely different from the Sheldon she was used to, and yet honest in a manner that only he could be.
“Penny, I have nothing to lose except you. Do you understand?” he asked. “I need you to stay strong. I need you to stay alive.”
“Make me feel alive,” she whispered, and kissed him again.
“We have to think about leaving here…” he said, trying to stay focused.
“Just give us an hour ok?” she begged. “Give me
an hour, before we have to think about what happens to us now…”
His hand swept against the smooth expanse of her back, under her thin shirt.
“Ok…” he murmured against her lips. “Ok.”
“So. You’re definitely not asexual.”
“Who told you I was?”
“I suppose I might have accidentally given off that impression over the years. I never saw the point in wasting time on just anyone who came along. If I were going to invest myself, it was going to have to have long term payoffs, I suppose.”
“I wasn’t worth a Doctor Cooper investment?”
“I didn’t think you wanted me.”
“That appears to be your theory.”
“Kiss me again.”
“This might seem like an odd question, but I can't help but feel concerned...what if I can’t stop?”
“Anyone alive in there?” a voice called out. Penny sat up, holding the comforter against her naked chest. Beside her, Sheldon stirred, but didn’t wake. Apparently, he was far more exhausted than she had guessed.
Dressing as quickly as possible, Penny ran out to the living room, ensuring that her stake was handy in her back pocket. Reaching the door, she slowed down.
She couldn’t believe her ears.
“Penny?” he answered, sounding relieved. “Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re alive. Open up, let me in.”
“What happened to your key?” she asked, unbolting the door and letting it swing open. True enough, her ex-boyfriend was standing on the other side, a look of unmitigated joy on his dirt streaked face. His clothes were covered in soot and specks of blood, but otherwise, he seemed whole.
“Are you kidding? I lost my entire man purse,” he said.
She waited for him to step in.
“So Sheldon in there?” he asked.
She didn’t answer. Instead, her gaze dropped to his feet, the way they stood on the edge of the threshold, as if he were unable to cross that line.
“Oh for fuck’s sake.” Leonard’s face transformed, his fangs stretching into a mockery of his sweet smile. “Honey, I’m home.”
There wasn’t time to scream. Instead, he reached in and snatched at her throat, dragging her out of the protective shield of Sheldon’s home.
“Miss me?” the vampire asked, hissing in glee as she tried to find her footing while she started to choke. He sniffed deeply. “Didn’t think you would. I can smell Shelly
all over you, you fucking whore.”
“Leonard, if you’re in there somewhere please…” she started, struggling uselessly in his grasp.
“I can’t believe you slept with him.” He snarled, throwing her to the ground. She thought of the stake in her back pocket, now as good as useless. “Working your way through the group are you? Don't worry that blonde little brain of yours. Howard and Raj will be along soon and we can say we’ve all had a turn. You’d like that wouldn’t you? Leslie sure did.”
“What did you do to her?” she asked, then shrieked as he pounced, fangs breaking through skin.
“Nothing she didn’t always want.” He promised with malicious glee, rearing up, his lips covered in her blood. “Bitch always thought she was better than me. Now she’s nothing and less than nothing. You should’ve seen her face by the time we were finished with her…”
Penny jerked her knee up, hoping to catch him between his legs. It would have worked if he didn’t anticipate it happening.
“You little bi…” he never got to finish. He looked down at his chest, and Penny followed his gaze to see a sharp wooden point sticking out his chest. “What the frak?”
As he dissolved into dust, Sheldon pulled her up.
“You dropped your stake.” He said grimly.
“You killed Leonard.” She replied, determined not to cry.
“Roommate contract. He didn’t get to shoot me if I became an undead creature, but I never promised the same in return.” He turned away quickly.
“He said Howard and Raj were…there are more coming.” She rubbed her sore throat, following him in and shutting the door. Sheldon waited for her to move out of the way, before shoving a bookcase in front of it.
“Window. Go.” He ordered, and picked up a black duffel bag.
Putting on her boots again at record speed, she slung her crossbow and quiver across her back, while he grabbed his shotgun and sword.
“Sheldon, for what it’s worth…” Penny said, reaching out to touch him. He flinched slightly. “I’m sorry.”
“There’s no need.” He replied, smiling that same regretful smile again. “It wasn’t Leonard any more. Leonard loved you. He would never have…”
He trailed off, leaving the rest to silence.
“At least I think they’re dogs…” Penny said hesitantly, peering over the window ledge at the trio of canine-looking beasts, feasting on something directly below.
“I could take them out with my gun, but the noise might attract unwanted attention.”
They ignored the tentacles clinging to the rails of the fire-escape, waving at them in some form of hungry greeting. Instead, they had tied together every sheet in the apartment, hoping that it would take their weight as they exited out of Sheldon’s bedroom window. Sure, it was a childish idea, but it was their last one.
“Use your crossbow.” Sheldon ordered.
They could hear Raj’s and Howard’s voices by the front door. Even knowing that they needed an invitation to get in didn’t make them feel better. Deciding not to argue, Penny took aim and fired three successive shots. She missed the last creature, and watched it scamper away with a whine.
“It’ll be back. We have to go.” Sheldon took a deep breath and swung his leg over the edge. “I’m the master of my bladder.”
He gripped the sheet tightly, and started climbing down carefully. Slightly above him, Penny followed suit.
“Don’t look down.” She instructed.
“Why’d you have to go and say that for?” he asked plaintively.
As they approached the second level, an unnatural breeze drifted from above, accompanied by the sound of loud flapping. Sure enough, there was a massive dragon making a fast descent, Penny discovered as she peered upwards.
“Sheldooon!” she squeaked. “Move your ass.”
“Slight problem.” He called up. She looked downwards, to find that he had been right, and indeed, the ‘dog’ had returned, only it had brought company.
Turns out, it was the runt of the litter she had missed.
“Sweetie, I want you to know that I lo…”
“Penny, duck!” Sheldon yelled, unsheathing his sword with one hand, no mean feat for a man who feared heights as much as he did.
The dragon swept right beside her face, but didn’t touch her. Instead, a dark shape seemed to fall off its back, landing on the pavement below. This was followed by a loud crash. It appeared that the dragon had deposited a green car on the road, dropping the vehicle from its immense claws.
“What’s happening?” Penny shrieked.
“I think I just found a real life superhero.” Sheldon said, sounding awe-struck.
Below, they could hear the sounds of a skirmish taking place. Several dog-like creatures whined and growled as they fell to the sound of a blade taking each of them out. Finally, there was nothing but silence.
“You folks can come down now…unless you want to hang out there a while more…” an unfamiliar voice called.
“How do we know you won’t eat us?” Penny called.
“You don’t. You just have to trust me.”
She was saved from answering when the sheets they held on to decided to untie themselves. With a shock, Penny realized they were crashing towards the ground. How ironic, to escape the clutches of bloodthirsty demons, only to die by falling two stories.
Except she wasn’t dead. Rather, Sheldon and her seemed to be lying on something soft, albeit leathery.
“I think we landed on the dragon’s wing…” Sheldon pronounced. His sword was still drawn.
“Watch where you point that thing. Cordelia’s not fond of sharp things stabbing at her.” It was their rescuer, clambering atop the dragon to survey his finds. In his hands, he held a big war axe which dripped with blood that looked almost black under the eternal twilight sky.
“Cordelia?” Sheldon questioned.
“The dragon. Her name’s Cordelia.”
“You can’t name a dragon Cordelia.” Sheldon started protesting. “It should be Smaug, or Smrgol…I will even accept Norbert. Have you no concept of proper dragon names?”
“Is…is he for real?” the man asked, staring at Sheldon with a perturbed expression.
“Yeah he’s…special.” Penny said, reaching out to grab Sheldon’s hand. He was probably still in shock – it had been a rough hour.
The dragon seemed to shrug, and the couple slid off its wing to land unharmed on the ground.
“Who are you?” Penny asked, taking in dark hair and black clothes.
“My name’s Angel. Can either of you drive?” the stranger asked, sounding impatient.
“I can.” The two of them said at once.
“Good. Take that green car there. The keys are in it. You want to find someone named Connor. He’s at…”
As the rounded the corner, they spotted Raj and Howard emerging from their apartment building. Without asking, Sheldon snatched the crossbow from the backseat and forced Penny to stop briefly. Arming it as quickly as he could, Sheldon took careful aim and fired twice.
The two vampires didn’t even see what hit them.
By the time she turned the next corner, there was nothing but thin wooden shafts clattering to the floor of the pavement.
“For Howard and Raj.” Sheldon said, his voice oddly choked. “They deserved better.”
“For Leslie too,” Penny added, not bothering to wipe the tears streaming down her cheeks. She may never have liked the other woman, but none of that made a difference. Not anymore.