Penny looked up when the long shadow fell over her.
“Sheldon,” she said, her voice flat and stern to match the expression on his face.
“Penny,” he replied just as reserved. “I have come, prepared to battle to the death.”
“That’s great, Sweetie,” Penny said distractedly as she laid out the pieces of her kite, “but I have to be at work in two hours so we need to move this along.”
Sheldon’s expression soured even further. Penny hadn’t seen him look this annoyed since she spilled nail polish on his spot (which was only two days ago and the reason for this impending kite battle).
“What exactly are you doing?” Sheldon snapped.
“Putting my kite together,” Penny grunted as she inserted one dowel into another. “What does it look like I am doing?”
“Putting your kite together?” Sheldon squawked, “You mean you haven’t come armed and ready?”
Penny shook her head in reply since she was holding the nylon sheathing with her teeth so her hands were free to slip it over the cross-spreader.
“You need some help, Penny?” Leonard called from the bench along the path.
“I have a free hand,” Howard volunteered.
“Don’t ask what the other one is doing,” Leonard cried and Penny laughed.
“Excuse me!” Sheldon exclaimed, “There will be no fraternizing with the enemy.”
Penny stared at the physicist, mouth agape, “Really, Sheldon. Don’t you think you are taking this a bit too far? I already apologized. I’m having your spot cleaned. I even agreed to this stupid kite war and bought an actual kite instead of using Raj’s Hello Kitty one.”
Sheldon peered at the kite she held before her. It was black and purple - it reminded him of one of his shirts, “Ah, yes. The Single French Military. A good choice, but no match for this.”
From behind his back, he brandished an impressive looking kite in black and red, “This is a Battle Rokkaku - the classic fighting kite of Japan.”
Penny raised an eyebrow, “It looks like a squashed bat.”
Sheldon hugged the kite to him protectively, “I’ll have you know this kite comes with its own fighting guide. You are, as they say, ‘going down.’” He wheeled on one heel and stalked toward the hill where the battle would commence.
Penny looked over her shoulder at Leonard and Howard who were eating popcorn in eager anticipation.
“Guys?’ She wailed.
“Don’t worry, Penny,” Howard tossed some kernels into his mouth, “you’re a shoe-in. Sheldon is susceptible to rope burn.”
“And sunburn,” Leonard added as the three of them watched Sheldon slather the back of his neck with the sunblock stowed in the back pocket of his plaid pants.
Penny observed as Sheldon slowly rotated keeping his index finger aloft.
“Are you waiting for a message from the mothership?”
He glared at her before answering, “I am seeking the optimal direction of wind in order to avoid wind shear and maximize the destruction of your kite.”
Penny turned her back to him, “I’m going this way.”
“Based on what data?” Sheldon was still rotating.
“Based on the fact that the wind is blowing my hair back so it will probably lift the kite,” she said before giving her kite a light upward toss. The wind caught it immediately and it shot skyward.
Sheldon stared at her before tossing his kite to the sky. It rose to sway next to Penny’s. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sheldon place the spool of string between his knees to hold it as he pulled on a pair of canvas gloves. Penny groaned - this was going to take a while.
“I’m ready,” Sheldon informed her, “I assume you know the basic rules?”
“Yeah,” Penny jerked her head, “according to the multiple emails you sent me, the object is for one of us to knock the other’s kite out of the sky. But I still don’t see what you’re trying to prove here.”
“Penny,” Sheldon let out more line and his kite rose higher, “issuing you strikes and pronouncing you banished have had no impact. You continue to disregard the sanctity of my spot.”
“Sheldon, it’s a freakin’ couch cushion…”
“Penny, in an ever-changing world…”
“I know. I know. Four-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system. 0000. Blah! Blah! Blah!” She unspooled her line and got her kite above Sheldon’s before glancing over at him. He looked as if he had been sucking lemons. “Look, Sweetie,” Penny made an attempt to pacify him, “if winning this kite war will make you feel better, then I am all for it.”
“Penny, letting me win will defeat the purpose and leave the question of dominance still unanswered.”
“Sheldon,” Penny blinked doe-eyed innocence at him, “by the time I’m done with you, there will be no question of dominance ever again.”
Sheldon raised an eyebrow and, with a flick of the wrist, his kite swooped down.
Penny let out another frustrated growl as she had to jerk back again to avoid getting caught in his line.
Leonard tried to help, “Penny, you just need to pull…”
She darted her eyes at him for a moment, “I’m pulling as hard as I can, and Sheldon still won’t stop!”
Howard guffawed so suddenly, that he started to choke on his popcorn. Leonard distractedly patted his back.
Sheldon let out a soft, “Mwahaha” before diving at Penny’s kite once more. “What’s the matter Penny? Overwhelmed by my dextrous moves and nimble fingers?”
“Oh God!” Howard hooted, elbowing Leonard in his side. “I bet you always wanted to say that to her.”
“Shut up, Howard!” Penny and Leonard both roared.
Penny gripped her kite line with both hands. The buffets from the wind made her arms shake and Sheldon’s incessant swooping in and out was rattling her nerves. She had to start some offense or he’d lord his victory over her for the rest of their lives. Sheldon’s kite approached once more and Penny began to let out more line.
“Slow and steady, Penny,” Leonard cautioned.
“Are you sure that’s how he likes it?” Howard nodded toward Sheldon.
“Go sit over there,” Leonard pointed to the bench several feet away, “I don’t want you next to me anymore. I’m afraid I’ll catch something.”
Penny looked over at Sheldon. He was the picture of intensity - eyes narrowed, lower lip chewed, hands gripped. He stood with his legs apart, bracing himself and she found her eyes fixated on the bending and flexing of the muscles of his exposed forearms as he attempted to wrap his kite line around hers.
Her gaze wandered down to Sheldon’s legs, encased in nauseating plaid. They were so… long and well-toned if her memory from when they ran together that brief week was correct. A small sigh escaped her and she felt her cheeks redden. The kite line lay slack in her hand and she would have conceded defeat except, at that moment, Sheldon glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes and smirked.
Son of a bitch!
She turned her attention back to the sky. Sheldon had managed to spiral his line around hers and was just about to give a hard
yank. Penny yelped and let the spool in her hand run. Her kite shot up in the air, rocking back and forth in the breeze and taking Sheldon’s kite along for the ride.
“Curse you,” The physicist across from her hissed.
“Ha! Ha! Sheldon- I’ve got you now!” Penny hooted as the kites rode ever higher.
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Penny,” Leonard warned.
Sheldon’s hands were a blur as he began reeling in his line. Penny felt the tug on her string and began letting out even more line. Sheldon’s arm jerked back and forth in a frantic attempt to land Penny’s kite. Penny, in turn, began reeling her line in as well. Suddenly, Sheldon loosened his hold on his kite which caused Penny’s to shoot upward. The line hissed through her palm.
“Shit!” She cried at the burn.
“What’s wrong?” Leonard called.
“My hands are on fire!” Penny groaned through gritted teeth.
“Did she just say her pants are on fire?” Howard perked up from where he was napping on the other bench.
“Come on, Penny,” Sheldon taunted, “Giving up already? Can’t take the heat of battle?”
She turned to face him. Sheldon waggled his eyebrows at her and, despite her pain, she had to smile. His cheeks were flushed, and his tongue darted out to lick his lips when their eyes met.
“I can take whatever you’ve got, Sheldon,” Penny boasted before she began reeling her kite in.
“Minx!” Sheldon cried as he mimicked her actions.
From their benches, Howard and Leonard watched the scene before them. They couldn’t see the expressions on Penny’s or Sheldon’s faces but they could certainly hear them. Sheldon grunted with every pull on his kite string; Penny’s breath escaped her in rapid pants as she leaned back to bring her kite in. Both lines were still tangled - the kites attached to them bobbed and weaved in the sky like two faces trying to figure out how to kiss.
Howard slid to the end of his bench; Leonard’s arms were folded, and he was frowning intently.
“Leonard, this might just be me, but doesn’t it sound like the two of them…”
His words were cut off by Penny moaning, “God, Sheldon, this is so hard.” Followed by Sheldon’s, “So close. So close, Penny.”
“Don’t even think of finishing that thought, Howard,” Leonard growled at him
Sheldon was tugging at his kite with all his might and Penny’s was slowly losing altitude. Their moans and groans reached a crescendo as both of them fought to pull the other kite down.
Sheldon’s teeth were clenched, “Just. A bit. More.” He pushed his arms straight down.
“Almost. Alllll…mooooost…” Penny gripped her kite line with both hands. Once again in unison, the two of them gave their lines a vicious pull. In the sky, the two kites separated, while on the ground, the lines snapped with such force that both Penny and Sheldon each landed on their respective asses.
The kites landed in a tangled pile of red, purple and black between them.
Penny looked over at Sheldon. His breath was coming in gasps; her chest heaved in rhythm with his. He met her gaze with widened eyes. Penny opened her mouth to speak but Leonard and Howard came running over to them.
“That was amazing,” Howard crowed, “I’ve never seen a battle like that.”
“Are you okay?” Leonard helped Penny to her feet. She nodded and walked over to Sheldon who waved away Howard’s outstretched
“Penny,” Sheldon looked at their lifeless kites, “It appears we have reached a draw.”
“Yup,” Penny shrugged then winced as the pain on her palms was refreshed, “I guess that question of dominance still remains.”
“Indeed it does,” Sheldon nodded but his brows drew together when he saw her hands. “Perhaps there is another means of settling it.”
Penny looked up at him and flashed a brilliant smile, “Perhaps.”
In the end, the rope burns on her palms really paled in comparison to the ones Sheldon ended up with on his wrists.