“Come on, they’re yummy, yummy! Look, I have…” She peeked into the cold, yellow cardboard-box in her hand. “Oh, I have four left! That’s plenty; two for each, or one and three. Sometimes I just have a few quarters of a square, just for a snack. I’m hungry, though, so we’re splitting--” Sheldon’s right eye gave a twinge when she started explaining her normal, completely inadequate weekend meal routines.
She continued babbling, her voice hoarse with sleep and brain not registering much beyond getting something to eat and not falling down from exhaustion while standing.
He tried to remain cordial, he was her guest; it wouldn’t do him well to get kicked out and stuck spending an awkward morning on the stairwell. Alone.
“It’s Saturday. Saturday mornings I have two large eggs, sunny-side up over toast. No crusts.” He tilted his head slightly and she was squinting in his direction. “As for beverages, I’m not picky.”
She bobbed her head, tired, and tossed the Eggos back into her freezer.
Sheldon shifted awkwardly. “I take it you no longer desire those?” She threw the back of her hand in the direction of the abandoned fridge and harrumphed as she plopped onto the closest stool.
Breakfast was now his problem.
He set about meticulously scrubbing down all utensils and dishware that would be needed, even those that were found inside the cabinets. Her head slipped closer and closer to the surface of the island, eyes not even attempting to stay open.
“Penny!” Her eyelids fluttered at his snapping fingers, just to the left of her forehead. “Your eggs, how do you take them?”
Her mind started a running commentary on how silly it was for Sheldon of all people be asking that kind of question. She was barely able to mumble out, “Scrambled,” before drifting back to images of Sheldon wearing her apron, making her almost giggle.
She was too tired to laugh; she smiled warmly, instead. It fit him better than one would suspect, but the pink and brown paisleys betrayed any belief that it was actually his own.
The third time he’d woken her up – well, third time on that morning in particular - she was on the couch and didn’t remember moving.
She’d had enough additional time to nap and truly feel rested, and now the smell of wheat toast and ketchup seemed to be invading every bit of her apartment.
She was a fairly good cook, sure, but it’d been a while since a home-cooked breakfast was what had woken her up. A weird memory flashed of Kurt burning half their kitchen down attempting to make pancakes using eighty-proof eggnog on one chilly December morning.
If this was the memory that would take the place of that one, then she was kind of glad. A lot glad, even.
Not that she’d be sharing that information anytime soon.
Forgetting his key was sacrilege, absolutely no good could come from it! Sheldon had been pretty clear about that point. The weekend was ruined! How dare she find any collateral damage anything but horrifying?
Her attempts at disguising her gladness didn’t stop her from smiling when he muttered a few choice words (ones that she had thought to be non-Sheldon approved normally) as bacon grease spit caustically at his knuckles.
“Oh, you’re up,” he commented, tilting his head in the direction of the table. “The eggs are staying warm in your oven, just a moment.”
He reached into one of her drawers and pulled out an oven mitt.
It made more sense than it should that he knew where such things belonged in her apartment. So maybe she’d left some of the stuff where it was moved to, after he’d organized it. It was less of a hassle, is all.
He pulled out a small plate from the shelf, above, and gently slipped it onto the table, both she and her stomach groaned. He let a small smile steal across his face before the insistent sizzling pulled him back to the frying pan.
Penny was taking small breaks to breath in between gulps of food, when he dropped an even amount of bacon strips onto their own small serving plate.
Pulling the mitt back on, he retrieved the toast and his own plate from the lukewarm oven and balancing the two, he switched off the knobs with his pinky and index fingers.
“This is – Sheldon, thank you.” She was already piling up bread and pork, eyes bugging out.
“You’re welcome, Penny. It is all your food, after all.” He primly straightened out a napkin across his lap and reached for the pepper.
“Yeah, but -” She didn’t want to explain how normally she bought the eggs and the bacon and the bread, but they sat in her fridge for ages until she realized she might finally want some. Which… usually happened at least three days past the expiration dates just to make it that much more pathetic. “You’re way awesomer by actually making use of it.”
“Awesome-r? I don’t think that’s a word.” He was scooping small amounts of eggs onto two lightly buttered pieces of toast.
“Trust me, it is. Look it up,” she mumbled over crunches of wheat-grain. “Your picture will be smiling back next to how to properly use it in a sentence.”
The conversation devolved into MMMs and Oh, my Gods (mostly from Penny, but with one or two care of Sheldon) before long and it was only when Penny noticed the small vase to the left of her arm that she formed a coherent thought.
“A flower; I clipped one from Mrs. Vartebedian’s begonia plant. The centerpiece is a staple of culinary presentation, of course.” He stared at his right hand’s fingertips, eyes slitted.
“Don’t worry. Your beloved little angiosperm clipped my index finger right back, during the process.” He held up the index finger he’d routed through the insufficient contents of her medicine cabinet to bandage.
He’d selected one from the second box, with the little Marvel stamp on the front. She’d gotten the Hello Kitty box as usual, but it was buy one get one free and it just made sense to get the other. Generics were boring and she liked Spiderman, anyway.
She couldn’t help but return his grin at the image of the little super-hero wrapped snugly around his distal phalanx.
She was allowed to like goofy things, too; that wasn’t strictly his domain.
His eyes caught hers and gave a proud little smile, chin up and shoulder tilted forward. “Peter Parker doesn’t seem much your type. Though, I’m sure most of your affection lies with his web-slinging secret identity.”
Was he was flirting with her? No way.
But in a twisted, backwards, I like that you have superheroes on your bandages kind-of-way, he was. He couldn’t be doing it on purpose, could he? She was afraid to ask.
After all, he got her a flower and made her breakfast. He’d stopped complaining about wearing the same clothes overnight and had been so genuine for that moment last night.
He sat in the same place they’d eaten dinner and she tried to keep her gaze steady, not boggle too much at his kindness.
“I like ‘em both. Spidey is… well, he’s Amazing, of course. But Peter, I think I like more. When Spiderman has to make the tough decision, it’s Peter who’s really doing the choosing there. He’s the heart, the man behind the mask. A little whiny and in his own little world, at first, but he grew on me. I guess. By accident,” she rambled out, before taking a long sip of herbal tea. Something about that felt like over-rationalizing and projection, but she didn’t let her mind linger.
He told her more about how he’d moved up his clandestine, weekly “Good Samaritan prune” to keep her plant fresh and prevent any wilting onto the communal stairway area. Normally this was scheduled for Tuesday afternoons.
She’d always known that this was the real Sheldon, secretly precious and undeniably surprising, hiding underneath all the insults and techno-babble. It’s just strange to be confronted with him, sometimes. Like during Saturn-Christmas, or giving her a chunk of his personal savings.
Especially at, she clicked on the TV to check, seven o’clock in the morning. Too weird.
“I think that’s exactly the sort of thing that keeps you from having Cheerios with Mrs. Vartebedian, Sheldon. Maybe she’s got a webcam rigged somewhere, too?” His eyes flew wide and his head craned backward some as he contemplated that comment. She shook her head.
She flicked through the channels and decided that CNN was the only thing on besides the tail-end of kids’ cartoons and infomercials. They should stay informed and she didn’t know the schedule, meaning there was always a small chance that Anderson Cooper could pop on – always an enticing prospect.
He was still eyeing her suspiciously when his phone pinged from somewhere tucked in his slacks. “Oh, that must be Leonard.” He felt around and retrieved it.
“Tell him ‘hi!’ from me!” she cooed, craning her neck to see the screen some, but the glare from the early morning sun was unforgiving on his plastic scratch guard.
“It’s Rajesh, actually. He’s experiencing extremely painful hang-over symptoms and they won’t be driving back until." Sheldon squinted at the text message. “Howard’s ...unlocked the door? There are some expletives and the word bhadkhau, after that, which is either Hindi or a typo. Apparently they’re locked out, also?”
“Where did they sleep? Is Howard still pissed and emo about the Leslie situation? He probably is.” She held her stomach and sighed, willing herself to digest as much as she could before she could start in on a second helping. She covered a small burp with her palm and Sheldon gave a short bemused, shake of his head. “Ask them why they’re locked out, too? Did they forget their keys?”
“I’m typing, I’m typing!”
“Locked out. Geniuses, hah!” She growled at the squeak the ketchup bottle made, bumping the end with a closed fist frowning as it refused to come out.
“Alright, he is saying something about a prostitute. I think I’m going to censor any further relay of information, for your benefit.” He cringed.
“What? Raj got a hooker?”
“No, no. It appears that he split it with Leonard,” Sheldon replied confusedly, hands still running over the touch screen.
“WHAT?!” She dropped the piece of toast, but Sheldon’s focus remained on the phone. “Sheldon, what?”
“Oh, alright, they paid for the hooker, but did not receive services. Only Howard did.” He shuddered, set the phone down and held up a hand. “I don’t want to know about any of this, we can wait until they arrive home at noon time and you can have all your answers from the source. I don’t want to know about friends with benefits, anymore.”
“Well, eww, okay. That figures. Wait - friends with benefits?”
“Yes, didn't we go over this?” Her eyes stayed wide in question so he huffed and continued on. “Someone who you maintain a sexual relationship with, while not desiring exclusivity or prolonged emotional attachment towards: friend with benefits.”
“Sheldon, it’s just a hooker. Call her a hooker, not a friend with benefits; that’s degrading to friends with benefits everywhere.”
“I don’t see the difference.” He tilted his head slightly, pushing around the eggs on his plate.
She sighed at his ridiculous lack of distinction over what were a very obvious and conflicting pair of definitions, to anyone else.
He was comparing them both against what was clearly a Leonard-line, polite but dismissive.
She was going to have to correct him, explain what it really meant. She picked up her plate and moved to the kitchen, dreading the forthcoming conversation. “Okay, I’ll explain. Only if you promise to withhold questions until afterward and you try to be as normal and not weird as is Sheldon-ly possible. Deal?”
“Deal.” His eyes lit up as he stacked the remaining dishes and moved them to the sink.
So, she explained and he listened raptly. He washed, she dried.
When she finally conceded that she had described the a situation as best she could, he meekly raised a finger to signal his wish to start posing his calmly withheld questions.
She could’ve hugged him. “Yes, Sheldon?”
“So, what you’re saying is, that relationships like yours and Leonard’s would not be deemed ‘friends with benefits’ because you have an emotional attachment to one another?”
“Sort of.” She didn’t really want to talk about Leonard without him being there, but figured she owed Sheldon a bit of clarification. He was friends with both of them and while it wasn’t really his business, most other friends would’ve demanded more at some point anyway. “Leonard, I guess, has some emotional attachment to me and while I love him to pieces,” she trailed off, realizing she was admitting this to herself for the first time, also. “It could probably work that way for me, but definitely – definitely – not for him.” Didn’t work with him, her mind corrected. Would never work that way with him. She sighed.
“So this friends with benefits paradigm exists even when those involved may not be observing the agreed upon rules?” His eyes sparked, gears finally grinding forward. “Which is what happened between Howard and Leslie?”
“Yeah, I’d guess so.” She rung the dish towel through her hands. “I don’t really know their situation too well, but those relationships rarely end well. I think Howard was probably attached even if he tried to not be, you know? Sometimes when you get to that place with someone, the emotional stuff comes out of nowhere.”
He squinted slightly, mouth opened as though he was about to say something. He swallowed and turned back to the sink, wiping down the sides with a sponge-brush.
“Any other questions, Sheldon, you look interested?”
“I accept your definition, but find something inherently flawed with the reasoning behind it.”
“As you’ve said yourself, you don’t remain attached in certain circumstances.” He began putting away the stack of dry plates and utensils, as he spoke. He really did remember where every little thing went and it was much less weird than she was sure it should feel. “And while not afflicted with a desire to do so, I believe that I would be able to maintain the same emotional detachment.”
She passed the dried out whisk and spatula. “And?”
“We are friends. We do not desire a prolonged emotional relationship brought on by a non-exclusive physical relationship. Personal reservations and background information, aside, would we not fall into the category of people who become friends with benefits?”
His voice was as clipped and measured as ever; he could be talking about microscopes and bacteria for all she’d know from his tone.
Her neck and ears were so flushed, but she pushed down the embarrassment and took a breath. “Well, it doesn’t really work like that.”
“Then how does it work?”
He’d started this intense round of questioning before, not even just during their conversation last night. The more often he brought these things up, the more in depth the topics, the more uncomfortable she got. Wasn’t it supposed to work in reverse? Cue the goosebumps.
She rapped her fingertips against the counter, picking clumps of utensils from the small pile of silverware. “Like you said, you have no desire to enter into that type of relationship.”
“Which is the only thing preventing a paradigm shift?”
Her mouth dropped. She couldn’t let this continue. “Sheldon, do you realize how some people could take this conversation? What you’re saying, right now?”
“Asking questions? Am I making you uncomfortable, again? I apologize,” he paused with only the pair of spoons in his hand, looking confused and worried.
“No, it’s just –,” she might as well explain flirting with him, if she’d already given him the run-through on dating. “When you say things like that, like last night, it’s implying – even if you don’t mean for it to, I don’t think – it normally would imply that you are trying to figure out if I’d be up for casual sex.” His brows furrowed slightly, as she realized that he was trying to do just that, and bit her lip at the stupid, clueless genius. “With you.”
He didn’t even seem to realize it, but he liked her. On some level, as bizarre and intimidating a prospect as it seemed, she had to make him understand that. The conversations would always bend to these uncomfortable places if they kept this up without her helping him get it.
She wasn’t sure if that meant she liked him, too. Or maybe it was just the nice thing to do; she’d want to be told if she had a crush on someone without realizing it. The back of her neck’s temperature flared up even more greatly and she tried to forget what she knew about karma.
His brain seemed to catalog back over his last few sentences and his entire right side lurched around, his face twitching with shock.
The spoons clattered to the ground.
Too many things attempted to happen at once: Sheldon shot down to retrieve the silverware, she tried to put the frying pan next to her kettle, to reach down and help, but both were too close and instantly bumped shoulders, rough and awkward.
The tension that had just built up found an almost audible chance to pop, both jumped back sharply.
Sheldon was still half-crouched, and had tried to straighten up too soon, instinctively at her leaning toward him. His left shoulder and neck hit against the edge of the frying pan, whacking it backwards out of her grip; both him and the pan clattering to the ground noisily, as she scrambled over to where he had tripped backwards onto his ass.
“Oh, my GOD! Are you alright?” She peeked at his neck and shoulder, gently placing her fingers on the area. She didn’t feel any major bumps, but turned waiting for the answer, worried anyway.
“Of course I’m not alright! You hit me with a frying pan!”
“I did not hit you, you hit the frying pan!”
“I hardly think that matters! Newton’s third would render them interchangeable!”
“It’s five pounds of cast iron, Penny! Those are the same thing!"
“It is totally not the same thing, Sheldon,” she huffed. He was clearly in pain, but neither were the type to let a disagreement alone. She took one for the team. “Let’s not argue. I have ice, do you want ice?”
“Yes,” he whined, dragging the tangle his limbs and torso had become, on to the closest stool.
She dug around for an ice pack, but only came up with a bag of frozen peas. He didn’t complain when she offered it to him, so she shut the freezer door and came around to the other side of the island where he was hunched over the counter.
“Any better?” She put a hand, as gentle and light as she could manage, on his shoulder. He didn’t flinch, so she rubbed slightly. He nodded, glumly, palming his left eye socket.
“I feel like an idiot,” he mumbled, almost inaudible.
She was speechless. Overwhelmed with the strange urge to kiss him everywhere and give him a tight hug, she gulped down a lump in her throat to ask the obvious question of what could possibly bring the beautiful mind of Sheldon Cooper to say such words.
“I never meant to imply – not that you aren’t – I just -,” He shivered a bit as he shifted the peas from his neck and into his palm, to let the area warm up a bit. She watched his hand twitch ever so subtly, before he raised his right hand to where hers still laid lightly. Covering her hand with his own, grateful but humiliated, as he hung his head and let out a stressed squeak. “I feel like an idiot.”
She ignored the fact that her heart was pounding, attributing it to the adrenaline of situation. “It’s okay. It happens.”
“Not to me,” He rolled his eyes.
“Uh, yeah it does. You just don’t get it pointed out to you, normally,” she sighed.
“Well, I appreciate you taking the time to explain such foibles, then. It’s a touch embarrassing and I don’t much like being embarrassed.”
She sandwiched her second hand on top of his and laid her forehead against his temple. “You have nothing to be embarrassed about, sweetie.”
She felt his hand flutter in between her own and she suddenly realized that she was doing the same thing she’d just called him on. In fact, she did it pretty often, the more she considered the idea - stringing him through countless awkward conversations with flirty comment after flirty comment.
She’d thought it harmless, like flirting with the elderly guys who read the LA Times at her coffee place, every morning, or the nervous eleven-year-old downstairs in 2A. There wasn't supposed to be any genuine intention on her part.
Her eyes bugged out both from her sudden comprehension and his thumb running along the pointy bone in her left wrist. She was the real idiot, here.
And if there wasn't some amount of buried intent before, there certainly was now.
Her brain was overloaded to the point that staring at the pinkish marks just above his shoulder-blade and to the left of his jaw-line was all she could do for a moment.
So, when she leaned in to kiss the boo-boo, nothing seemed that absurd about it. She’d have done the same thing – hours, weeks, years – before this revelation.
His muscles tensed and he attempted to swerve backwards slightly, but not enough to escape her lips. Did he just let her do that? Was she really kissing his neck? Her stomach flopped at their constant give and take, the never-ending struggle for dominance.
When she pulled back his eyes were dilated and pulse was racing. She could feel the humidity of his palms spike, only then realizing their hands were practically entwined, with how close they still remained clasped. His thumb had stopped moving.
Looking up and down at her, as though she’d just teleported next to him, the part between his lips steadily grew as the silence stretched out. “There -,” he started, voice cracking like a twelve-year-old. “There are two places it hit.”
It was her turn to gape, head leaning in slightly before she stopped. Wait. “Sheldon, it sounds like you’re implying –,” her eyes widened faintly, as his tongue darted out to aid his dried out mouth and lips.
He was no good at reading signs, normally. There was no way this was intended.
Her brain kept searching for ways he could be taking this wrong, misunderstanding the subtext of his comments. He was usually on the second bullet-point of just how mistaken she was, by now.
“Yes, I believe I am.” His chin turned up and she didn’t need to be told twice.
Closing the distance, she gave a small peck – this time closer to his shoulder than his ear – lazily moving her lips around the surface. He gave another shudder, in response, dropping the frozen bag of vegetables with a - thwop - to the table.
“I was – OHH! – I was wrong,” he cooed out as her teeth and tongue got involved. Pulling her head back, she stared at him, wide-eyed. “About a lot of things, I was wrong.”
“You’re kidding. About what?” If he was already moved to admitting blanket failures, she was going to just go with it. This felt more right than she could have thought possible and if he, the king of all things asexual and disinterested, was angling his head for her to have better access to bite at? She didn’t want to waste a second before he snapped out of it.
Or deal with the very real plans she was already formulating to convince him not to. When his free hand gripped her waist, tightly, where she was leaning against the back of the stool he was sitting on, she shuddered at the idea of him not snapping out of it.
She leaned back in to nip just below his earlobe, almost giving into the urge to growl. He made her want to growl? What the hell that was about, she didn’t even know.
Swaying back into the crook of his shoulder, she latched onto his neck trying to get him to squeak, again. She succeeded.
“Well, how fr –EEK – uently the photons were supposed to AHH-scillate in my death ray, the final answer at the Physics Bowl -,” she shifted their position to let her move up towards his earlobe. His mind was having a hard time staying detached from the situation.
“I don’t think I’d be able to maintain emotion detachment and I am clearly not as opposed to this type of stimulation as I’d have thought.”
She stopped and wrenched backwards, “Emotional detachment? What?”
“I not only want – well, that - but, I don’t want anyone else to be doing that to me.” He was almost frowning, face glazed over in his own surprise at his sudden awareness. “Or to you, for that matter,” he peeped out, head quirking side-ways in surprise.
“Oh.” She didn’t know what to say. Coming up with an answer was proving difficult. “Well – I – actually, don’t think I’d want that either – the casualness, that is – not so much the other part. That - I kind of want, like - a lot – want, actually. Sorry, I’m a little overwhelmed right now.”
His eyes had crossed as he watched her ramble on, head drawing closer and closer. She tilted back a bit when he leaned almost the full way before flinching still.
“What are you doing?”
“I think I’m going to kiss you.” He sounded concerned. So, she initiated a three inch lean-in that finished that thought for him.
Then, they were kissing. And kissing and kissing. When she finally braved deepening it, he was already shifting them towards the couch. He really was way too tall for her furniture, and she laughed as they fell down, the backs of his knees catching on the armrest with his head nearly reaching the other side.
She shuffled up just above his lap to let him pull his legs upwards, somewhat. His attempt to do so resulted in her sliding back down again, where she pinned his mid-section against the crooked pillows, underneath him. His hands flew to her lower-back, closing his eyes and seeming to let the sensation wash over him.
The eggs had been delicious and he had said thank you in the sweetest little voice, last night. So she rolled her hips in a semi-circle and his eyes flew back open.
His long arms extended as far as they could reach, tickling up her spine, before pulling her downwards to better reach her mouth. Her bathrobe ended up by the wayside.
If she was going to hit the brakes on this, it’d have to be sooner rather than later. She couldn’t be held liable for what she’d do to him if the tensed muscles of his belly kept grazing against her ribs in the most tantalizing way and his tongue persisted in giving a demonstration on how he managed to enunciate those three syllable words all the time. What she need was a yes or no, to put it simply.
“Sheldon,” she mumbled. He pushed her down further, his hands back down by her hips. “Sheldon,”she tried to pull back some, but he had her mouth occupied and somehow the actual pulling back takes doubly as long as it should. She finally sat up and she couldn’t manage more than a stuttered, “Hey.”
She looked down to see him looking worried and unsure, but before she could elaborate he was biting his lower lip and slowly forcing his body to sway upward. Grinding against her, his jaw twitched. Just like the hug, like his offers of help and gratitude; she could see his brain working to follow protocol, to signify compliance and appreciation. She forgot her question or maybe had it answered, she yanked her white tank straight up over her shoulders and none of that – nothing else – mattered.
He pulled his arms back from behind her, clamping over her breasts as if he was attempting to cover her bareness with anything and his hands were the first logical option.
Once his hands are there, though, she smiled. His eyes are closed and his fingers hesitatingly begin smoothing her skin. Before long they’re groping more confidently, rubbing and palming, she was always buying the Spiderman bandages in the future. It takes a while before the pinching and kneading begins, but her persistent breaks from kissing to cry out kept him trying to figure what she like best and modifying his actions accordingly.
It’s not long when her hands wander off, with a mind of their own, pulling his first shirt then second shirt off. Undoing the buttons on his pants. Getting him to stop everything and scream out into a curtain of blonde hair.
She hears his shoes clunk to the ground from where his feet dangle just above the floorboards. It’s intimate in a way she’s never been exposed to.
Barefoot and shaking, she kisses his everywhere when done deciding that no words would ever do.
She’d had a hard time getting her exes to put anything on, half the time, and she’s pretty sure that Sheldon slept with them fully laced, last night. She whimpers.
Her breathing hitched and she was nearly in tears, frantically needing to eliminate all remaining layers as quickly as she could. They both worked themselves into a frenzy and she had never found her couch too small until the last day and a half. Pillows fly every which way and her hair caught on his wristwatch. The groans they let out at varied intervals and combine with the morning forecast as it echoed hollowly throughout the room.
When their brains catch up to where their bodies had left them behind, their ears rang and it felt like time had stopped, which is impossible, but it does. They stare in silence and awe.
It resulted in Sheldon freaking out below her, in what she thought, at first, is him peaking early, but it turned into him screaming all kinds of incoherent babbling about Newton’s other popular contributions to the scientific community.
For once, she finds it fascinating. Probably for the wrong reasons, though.
He grabbed tightly at her hip bones and started to propel upwards with enough force to shake the couch and each time his dangling legs bumped against the side, the trunk on the opposite side rattles rattled and the tea cup that had been sitting on top of it for a week clinked loudly.
“Wait!” he called out, gruff and choked. He seemed to on the same page because even though they were both shuddering and groaning throughout the process, he managed to reverse their position and was panting dazedly above her in the next moment. Guiding her legs, gently smoothing them to cross securely behind his mid-section, he staggered toward the bedroom.
She wasn’t going to be singing ‘Soft Kitty’ this time, she suspected, as he dropped her delicately on the carefully made-up bed. The way he tore at the comforter, bumping them up the mattress and tossing throw pillows out of sight, it was more attractive than she’d ever found the act of undressing a bed. It was making her notice him as more attractive than she’d ever considered, for an added visual.
“Well?” she couldn’t help grin and giggle a bit at how blank his expression was. He’d cleared off the space, but appeared completely at a loss.
His eyes clenched shut and appeared as though the millions of words in that big fat vocabulary of his were all failing, he leaned down and knocked his forehead against hers.
For the second time she held back the surge of affection that let her hear nothing but her own heartbeat and blocked out her ability to see straight, or care about anything but the scared, lanky, physicist’s face, quivering against the edge of her nose, overwhelmed with having to acclimate yet again to such a foreign situation.
The rush of fear that singing to him would result in doing just what she was about to seemed to have surged through her years ago, instead of just last night. She tilts her head to capture his lips.
With her eyebrows still touching his, she willed him rubbed his chest counter-clockwise.
Starting out as partly distracted by her slow, gentle kisses, eventually he’s back to being Sheldon – working the equation, putting two and two together, always connecting the dots.
She switched to clockwise and a smile – a real, genuine, goofy smile – breaks out, lighting up his entire face.
Then, the most beautiful sound she’d ever heard him make tumbled from deep down in his chest and it felt like it was filling every inch of her entire body with warmth. He was laughing. Laughing wildly and kissing her fiercely before taking random breaks to laugh more and then kiss more.
She was aware that he was still …well, he was still there and even though everything about the moment made her want to get them moving against each other even more than before, she couldn’t help but laugh with him.
They eventually calmed down enough for him to give a shake of the head and as hard a glare he could manage, given the circumstances.
“Start over,” he peeped out before he burst back into a fit of giggles that turned to shrieks as she bucked her legs up sharply, lacing her bare feet higher up against his back.
Once he had rocked up onto his knees, the laughing stopped but the muted disbelief and amusement still dance along with the flecks of grey and turquoise in his steady gaze.
And so she did - start over, that is – first kissing then clawing at his neck and along the length of his surprisingly expansive back, as her vision splotches up as she rode out the last of the tremors shaking through her body.
When she finally saw straight, again, he was still staring down at her – as he no doubt had, from the intensity of his eyes, throughout her entire blackout. It made her toes curl and she pecked the tip of his nose softly.
They gathered up their strewn belongings and pulled their clothing back on slowly, a bit unsure of what to do or say. He cleared his throat a few times while they stumbled back towards the living area and she switched the channel to cartoons.
He cleared his throat. “Not that I would be opposed to – not at all opposed to – doing that again in the future.” He tilted his head and took a deep breath at the thought. “But, I was serious before. I believe your hypothesis to have been valid.”
Because, “Um, duh!” seemed a bit harsh to reply with, she humored him by asking what he meant by that.
“Well, when you said that sometimes the emotional element is only triggered by romantic intimacy,” he started, as he played with the hem of his shirt and looked elsewhere. “I believe, in my case, that the ‘someone’ is you and the ‘out of nowhere’ more than applies.”
“Sheldon,” she slipped her hand up his knee to where his hand played with his shirt, eventually walking her fingers up to lace with his. “We’re not friends with benefits, if that’s what you’re worried about. I never got to finish that conversation earlier, you know, how you were wondering aloud about why we weren’t – those type of friends.”
“No, you didn’t,” he was trying but failing to hide a small grin.
“Well, I think it’s fine by me if we just find our own definition for it, or no definition at all. We just are.”
“Yes, or ‘at one another’s throats, anyway.’” He rolled his eyes at posing that as a serious suggestion. “Really, though, I’d never be able to stay unemotional and keep it just about sex, with you.” She leaned over, rubbing elbow against elbow. “You always manage to bring out the junior rodeo in me, good or bad as that may be.” He finally let the grin slip. She was grinning, too. “So, one hell of a sleep-over, huh?”
"Yes, quite.” She shifted a bit to lie sideways across his lap. His left hand caught a stray curl and twirled it a few times before letting it bounce downwards against her cheek. “Perhaps I should forget my key more often.”
As they waited for Leonard to return back, they sat in companionable silence. Until a small thought brought her to speak, quietly, eyes not leaving the cartoon super-hero onscreen.
“Sheldon, was I your – I mean was that your…” She didn’t want to say first, since it sounded almost inadequate. She needed to know just the same.
“My only, yes it was – you are.” He reddened a bit at the ears and she was the one to connect the dots. Why her mind had been nagging her to bring this up, why she knew what she needed to say as soon as those words left his mouth.
“Okay.” She felt downright giddy and the look on his face told her she wasn’t alone. “Well, I can’t really give you that honor, but I’m willing to think of something equally good to label you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m your first. You’re my first --” She pretended to think about it.
She knew what she wanted him to be already and her chest burned as he genuinely searched for something to fill in the blank. No jealousy, no immaturity, just Sheldon getting the facts straight.
“First…” He almost said physicist or three digit IQ and person over six feet tall, but he wasn’t an idiot and knew that none of those were likely to work. He bit his tongue and shrugged. “I've no suggestions. I’m not very good with superlatives, unfortunately. I don’t know what I’d be good to label as.”
“No ideas? Really?” she huffed, dramatically. He turned to stare down at the pool of blonde in his lap, holding back the look of frustration at her pestering that he wanted to give until she rolled her eyes and left him no choice. “Fine! God, we can go with last, maybe, if you get your act together.”
She didn’t have to see his face to gauge his reaction. Smug grin at first at ending the argument, no doubt, before the words sunk in and his eyes burst wide, mouth agape and tonsils almost visible.
He ran his hand against the fluff of hair near her temple, leaning down and pressing a chaste kiss just above her right temple.
His voice was hard to hear over the half-man, half-bat’s screams onscreen, but her ears caught every inflection. Now, it was his turn to be the one acting theatrically huffy and her stomach fluttered a bit at how perfect they already felt together, like this. “Honestly. As if you weren’t already guaranteed that title, too.”
The next night he stayed over and Penny didn’t sleep on the couch. In fact, she didn’t sleep at all. And she didn’t eat a frozen waffle for decades.