In an alternate universe somewhere in this earthly realm, Penny isn't a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. She's an actress, right up there with...Julia Roberts or something. She worked her ass off and paid her dues and now she's making movies people go to just to see her. In the same alternate universe, Raj can talk to girls without the aid of an alcoholic beverage, Leonard's kindness and sweetness is appreciated instead of taken advantage of, Howard doesn't live with his mother and has respect and devotion for women, and Sheldon? Well, Penny had no idea what an alternative universe Sheldon would be like. She didn't even understand this universe's Sheldon.
In this theoretical alternate universe, Penny did not have a soul-shattering crush on Sheldon Cooper.
Penny wanted to live in the alternate universe.
Everyone always focused on Leonard's crush on her. All the boys teased him about it and give him crap and in general tried to make him feel as dumb as possible for having a crush on such an unobtainable creature as herself. Yeah, like she'd ever love a geek like him. She was beautiful and socially adept and smart in, well, her own way. Penny would never love a nerd.
Except Penny did love a nerd. It's just a different nerd. She came to this conclusion after countless nights of tossing and turning and wondering and dreaming and she doesn't know what to do about it. It's Sheldon. Sheldon! But there was something so very sweet about him; a strange innocence that she'd never really understand. She was coming to terms with that now. He wasn't just an annoying geek who didn't live in the same world she did. They occupied the same space most of the time these days and, well, they were used to each other now. Except Penny wanted him to be more than used to her. She wanted him to see her for what she was--not Leonard's ex, not the ditzy girl across the hall, not the waitress from the Cheesecake Factory who brought him his cheeseburgers--but as a woman. Who had feelings. For him.
Almost an entire year went by while Penny tried to figure out what to do about this crush of hers. It wasn't going away, and it was just getting more intense. When Leonard tried to reignite their on-again off-again...thing, she thought maybe that was the answer to her problems. Penny tried to throw herself into the relationship and forget about her fledgling crush on Leonard's roommate, she really did. But Sheldon was always there. He always had something to say. And while that repelled her in the first year or two of their rocky friendship, now it only made her like him more. She'd never had such a crush before...every guy she'd ever liked had always returned her feelings. Sometimes she wasn't sure Sheldon even had feelings, much less if he had any for her. Eventually her relationship with Leonard ended as it always did--it went down in flames and she and Leonard barely even acknowledged each other for weeks. They were just now trying to repair their friendship, which Penny truly did treasure. But she knew someday he'd find out about her inappropriate crush and things would get ugly again.
Not helping the situation was Sheldon's relationship--or whatever the hell it was--with Amy Farrah Fowler. Penny liked Amy and wanted her to be happy, but watching them together made her feel kind of stabby. But just a few weeks before Penny's 27th birthday--which turned out to be quite an interesting day indeed--Sheldon terminated their relationship agreement. It seemed as though Amy became fed up with the lack of digital stimulation and gave Sheldon an ultimatum. She wanted to hold hands whenever the mood struck her, and she wanted him to be open to at least discussing taking their relationship to the next physical level. Predictably, Sheldon did not give into her demands and they parted on friendly but distant terms.
Now that both she and Sheldon were single, Penny found herself thinking about how to pursue something with him, and if it was worth pursuing at all. He wasn't a normal relationship kind of guy. Not to mention the fact that he was always so condescending about her job and her education. She learned a long time ago to not take that personally, though. They were still friends, and she knew Sheldon had a certain kind of strange respect for her. But it was definitely going to be a challenge. And if she really thought about it, maybe that was the appeal. Maybe she was just that bored.
In the meantime, Penny wasn't just sitting around her apartment and feeling sorry for herself. She was auditioning more than ever, and even landed a tiny part in a car commercial. She was working out more intensely and more often; finding that lifting weights and running on the treadmill at the gym was almost a sufficient replacement for sex. Almost. And it was working--she'd lost 10 pounds, gained sexy, curvy muscle and was feeling better physically than she had in years.
Almost on a whim, Penny looked up some classes at Pasadena City College and decided to take an introduction to creative writing class. Surprisingly, she actually enjoyed it and found writing to be a perfect way to channel her frustration into book-form. She wasn't going to win awards for it any time soon, but she was proud of her new hobby.
It was just a simple fact, however, that no matter how busy she kept herself and how much she wrote and how many hours a day she worked out, Penny couldn't forget that pesky little crush she had on her neighbor. She was going to have to do something about it. And soon.
On Penny's 27th birthday, the boys threw her a little party at Sheldon and Leonard's. They wanted to do something bigger for her but she insisted it was no big deal. And really, why would it be? Every single one of her friends back in Nebraska had started shooting out babies and she hadn't even gotten around to getting married yet. She was almost 30, and what did she have to show for it? All the things she'd been doing lately to distract herself were just that--distractions. But when it came down to it, where was it all leading? Penny was desperately trying not to throw herself a pity party but she seemed to be going straight down into a shame spiral.
To make herself feel better, Penny put on her tightest little black dress, which was looking a lot better lately after all those hardcore workouts. She was rewarded with three speechless men when she walked in to her party--Sheldon was busy playing WOW and didn't even notice her arrival. As usual.
"OMG, Bestie, you look amazing!" Amy said first. She and Sheldon no longer had a relationship agreement but Amy was still hanging around. It was kind of awkward but Penny was used to her, and she was glad Amy was at her party.
"You look like you could use a few birthday spankings, if you know what I mean," Howard said, sounding like the pre-Bernadette Howard that Penny loved to hate. Bernadette just giggled at her fiance and poked him in the arm. True love.
"Wow, Penny, you look amazing," Leonard said. "I mean, really, you look...amazing."
"Thanks, hon," she said, appreciating the compliment and the look on his face that went with it. She knew she could always count on Leonard to make her feel beautiful. If only she could get the same reaction out of Sheldon.
At that moment, Sheldon finally looked up from his computer, gave her a glance that made her feel dirty for some reason, and said, "Yes, that dress makes your body quite aesthetically pleasing, which I guess is important for some of the males in this room."
Well, that was as much of a compliment as she could ask for from Sheldon.
Raj just nodded and gave her a thumbs up. Apparently he hadn't gotten into the liquor yet.
"We thought we'd eat and then play some Rock Band," Leonard said. "You said keep it small, so we kept it small. You know we would have gone all out if you wanted us to."
"I know, thank you. I'm just not feeling it tonight."
"You know who else didn't feel their 27th birthdays? Jimi Hendrix. Janis Jopin. Kurt Cobain. At least you're doing better than they are," Sheldon said, looking pleased with himself. "Oh, and Amy Winehouse, but that might be too soon."
Penny blinked. How did he know who Kurt Cobain was when he'd never even heard of Radiohead? Sheldon knowing things about pop culture? When did this happen?
"I took it upon myself to do some research on the subject of 27th birthdays," Sheldon said, aware that his newfound knowledge was a surprise. "I don't know why, it's basically useless knowledge. But now I know how you feel every day."
"Thank you. I think?"
After all the pizza was gone and almost all of the beer was consumed, Penny opened her presents. Amy got her some gorgeous new Manolos, which Penny couldn't even comprehend.
"Amy, they're gorgeous! How could you possibly afford these?"
"I had to donate my plasma and sell my underwear online, but it was worth it just to see the look on your face!" Amy said happily. Penny wasn't quite sure what to say to that, so she just hugged her good friend Amy.
Howard and Bernadette's gift was two tickets to the Foo Fighters show in LA. Penny had a bit of a happiness panic attack and gave Howard a hug that Bernadette couldn't have approved of in any way. Raj gave her bath products that were only borderline creepy, and Leonard gave her a necklace she'd admired in a store window like six months ago. He earned a kiss on the cheek for that one. Sometimes she wished she could make it work with her ex-boyfriend, but it wasn't meant to be. They'd tried it enough times to know that.
Sheldon watched and commented on the gift-giving but didn't participate. While this didn't really surprise Penny--Sheldon wasn't really a believer in the normal social conventions of birthday parties--it still stung a bit.
But even though Sheldon hadn't given her a gift, Penny couldn't help but feel touched that he'd gone to such lengths to research a little something to relate to her birthday. And she thought about it the entire time they watched the newest episode of Jersey Shore (it was obviously her pick--she'd watched enough Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica to last a lifetime) and then played Rock Band for an hour or two until Raj passed out and started snoring. It was a nice evening, but it was time to make the long walk across the hall.
"Thanks, guys, I had a nice evening," she said. And it was nice. She was surrounded by her good friends who all came together for her stupid birthday. It just wasn't exactly what she had in mind. But she was getting the feeling that what she had in mind was actually impossible.
Leonard walked Penny to her door. She kissed his cheek again and said good night. Leonard--who was, after all, Leonard--asked, "Is there any chance..."
"No," she said sadly. "I wish there was, but no." He nodded and gave her one last cute smile, and she closed the door.
Penny was so tired, she fell asleep on the couch in her dress. When she woke up, she took one look at herself in the mirror and groaned. Was this what 27 was going to be like? Feeling like shit in the morning just for existing? Sighing, she took a long shower, put on her sweats, and got out the cookie dough ice cream. She wasn't working, and there was a Star Trek: Next Generation marathon happening all day on SyFy. She put the show on mute and opened her laptop. The "novel" she was writing was actually coming along nicely and she could use her pity party day to further the progress.
At 11:00 sharp, as she was completely engrossed in the words of her story, nine very familiar knocks followed by the signature, "Penny. Penny. Penny!" rang out in her ears. Smiling, she opened the door to find Sheldon on the other end, holding a small package and looking...nervous?
"Hey, sweetie. What's up?"
"I woke up this morning and after my bathroom time, I realized I forgot to give you your socially acceptable birthday trinket. So I thought I'd give it to you now, even though it's not your birthday anymore and therefore the gift is moot."
"Your gifts are never moot, Sheldon. Thank you for thinking of me," she said, genuinely touched by the gesture. "Please come in."
Sheldon came in and sat in the new chair Penny bought essentially just for him, to replace the one she got off the street. His eyes lit up when he saw what she was watching.
"My goodness, this is "The Icarus Factor"! I've seen this episode 84 times. I didn't know you were a fan of the Next Generation, Penny."
"Well, I'd seen so many episodes at your place that I'm just kind of used to them now. I don't know, they soothe me, I guess." Not to mention, when she was in her most pathetic of moods, they made her feel closer to Sheldon in some kind of awful, tragic way.
"Fantastic. Maybe someday I can convince you to go to a convention as Deanna Troi."
"What, are you going to be Riker?" Penny chuckled at the visual.
"Penny...I have to say, I am quite impressed with your knowledge of Star Trek. When Leonard and I first met you, I had no idea you'd be so capable of learning so much in such a short time." He looked happy with this revelation. "And yes, I would go as Riker. You don't think I can pull it off?"
"Oh, sweetie, of course you can," she lied.
"I make an excellent Riker, I'll have you know. Well, anyway, here is your gift. I had them wrap it at the store since I have no time for such a ridiculous ritual."
Penny smiled and took the gift from Sheldon. She opened it and was surprised to find a lovely leather-bound journal. It looked expensive, and it smelled like heaven.
"Wow, Sheldon, this is beautiful. Thank you."
"Well, you've mentioned your community college writing course and I thought you could use this for future endeavours."
"I'm touched. This is an amazing gift, Sheldon."
"Yes, well, although I don't really believe in birthdays, I saw this at the store and I wanted you to have it. I want to encourage this writing hobby of yours. Anything that hinders you from watching countless hours of Kardashians or drinking your weight in tequila and making another bad choice at the bar with whatever young, hot stud you spot for the evening."
Penny was so shocked he mentioned the Kardashians that she didn't even care about his other accusation. She thought about how interesting it was that they kept surprising each other with what they did and didn't know. So many years of living across the hall had really changed both of them. Penny wondered if it was for the better or worse.
"Well, thank you again, Sheldon. I appreciate the gesture."
"You're welcome. Oh, and I also wanted to tell you that a professor at the university is looking for an entry-level part time grant writer in her department. I took the liberty of telling her about you and she sounded interested. You'll need to call her for an interview but you basically have the job if you want it. It pays well, and it'll give you a chance to learn more about your craft."
Penny was speechless. Truly speechless. When she found her voice after absorbing the magnitude of what he did for her, she said, "Why would you do that for me?"
"What do you mean, why? We're friends, right?" He said, looking distracted, and it broke her heart a little for so many reasons that she didn't even comprehend.
"I don't even know how to thank you, Sheldon. Um...can I hug you?"
"I guess the normal social convention for gift giving is as such, so yes, I believe that can be arranged." Sheldon rose from his comfortable chair and Penny jumped up and hugged him. He was so warm. And he smelled good. And she only got to hug him like once a year, so she savored the moment for as long as he let her, which was much longer than she expected.
To Penny's surprise, Sheldon sat down on the sofa with her instead of going back to his chosen spot. They sat together for a while and watched Star Trek silently. She knew he was going to want to go back to his apartment soon and she just didn't want him to. For one thing, and she was pretty sure she wasn't imagining it, there was something happening between them right there on her couch. There was a kind of electricity she'd never noticed before. He had to be feeling something; it wasn't just coming from her end. Granted, maybe it was just her and all the energy from the crush she'd had on him for so long now, but maybe, just maybe, he felt the change in the atmosphere, too. The thought occurred to her that even if he did, he probably had no idea what to do with the feelings he was having. This wasn't going to be easy, whatever she had in mind. Sheldon was not an ordinary man. She couldn't just put her hand on his leg and give him a bottle of wine and seduce him. But more than anything at that moment, she wanted to know what it felt like to kiss Sheldon Cooper.
And then she had an epiphany. She was not used to being this poor, hopeless female desperate for a man's attention. Penny was not going down without a fight. She'd always been outspoken, why change now? Why couldn't she just tell him what she wanted? Even if it did freak him out, he wouldn't punish her for it. If anything, Sheldon welcomed honesty. At least...she thought he did.
During a commercial break, she finally found her voice.
"Sheldon, I have a question."
"Yes, I'm sure you have a lot of questions. But what is your current question?"
Penny cleared her throat and hesitated. He looked at her, curiosity piqued.
"Have you ever had feelings--romantic feelings--for any females other than Amy?"
He looked annoyed with this line of questioning, but still answered, "I can't say that I have. Even with Amy, I've just never seen the opposite sex in that way. Forgive me, Penny, but I just see females as distractions, mostly. My life is about science and achieving my career goals, and eventually the Nobel Prize. I don't want to focus on anything else."
"What about feelings for males?" She asked tentatively. Well, a lot of people wanted to know the answer to that question. Maybe he was just waiting for someone to ask.
"No, Penny, I'm not homosexual, either. If you must know, I do find females attractive in a classical kind of way and I do have sexual urges from time to time. I do have testosterone, after all. But I always manage to focus back on the task at hand. It was difficult, especially in my teenage years, but I find my career to be rewarding enough to resist temptation."
"Fair enough," she said, not sure where else to go now. While she didn't particularly enjoy the answers to her questions, she at least took some solace in the fact that he felt comfortable enough to answer them.
They watched more Star Trek in somewhat awkward silence for a while.
"Why do you want to know this about me? We've had a lot of time to talk about this over the years, so why do you choose this moment?"
Maybe he was smarter than she gave him credit for. Maybe he DID sense her change in feelings for him. Then again, maybe not.
"I have my reasons..."
"Oh, come on, Penny. I know you. You have something on your mind. You can tell me, you know I'm an excellent secret keeper."
"Yeah, unless you're drugged with warm milk and Valium!"
"That was one time! Damn that Howard," Sheldon exclaimed, annoyed. "Anyway, I'm not letting you off the hook."
"Okay, well...oh, hell, I'll just tell you. Recently I've been thinking about you. A lot. And not in a scientific way, but in a...romantic way. Sheldon, I've come to really appreciate and like and respect a lot of things about you, and it's turned into a crush. At first I thought it was a schoolgirl crush, but it keeps going and I can't seem to control it anymore. So...that's it. That's what I wanted to say."
And of course she said too much and of course she horrified him. Except he didn't look all that horrified. Actually he looked, well, flattered.
"Is that really it? Or do you have more to say? I need all the information before I can accurately respond."
How did he know her so well? It was unnerving.
"Okay, okay, it's more than romantic. It's also sexual. I dream about you a lot. You and me. And we're doing a lot more than talking. And right now, all I want is for you to kiss me. And I know how you feel about that, and I know how you feel about me, and I honestly can't believe I'm still talking, and ughhh I'll shut up now. Oh, except, one more thing: I'm pretty sure this is more than a crush and actually I'm just completely in love with you. So...yeah. That's it."
Sheldon considered this for a long time. Penny thought she could actually see the steam coming from his brain as he thought this over.
"Nobody but my lovely mother and my Meemaw have ever said they loved me before," Sheldon said in a weird voice Penny couldn't identify. "If anything, it's nice to hear that from a woman."
"Any woman?" Penny asked, wanting to punch him instead of kiss him now.
"No, not any woman. As long as we're being honest. You are the only consistent woman in my life. And, Penny, you are an attractive woman, even I can see that. Your devotion to the gym has paid off, although I can't imagine spending one second in what essentially is a playground for germs and sickness. I have had thoughts of a sexual nature about you many times in the past, and I've had the same dreams you're describing. I have no desire to act upon these feelings as my work would almost definitely suffer for it. But if you must know...sometimes I do wish I was different, and that I could just surrender to my baser urges."
Penny put her hand on Sheldon's arm and he didn't even flinch, so she left it there and said, "Thank you for telling me that, Sheldon. I know this conversation must be hard for you. But can I just ask, why don't you just let yourself surrender to your urges?"
"The germs are a big concern, I must admit. So much contact with someone else's body frankly scares me to death."
Penny sighed. Sheldon looked at her closely, lost in thought. He looked confused. And vulnerable.
"Any other reasons? Besides it affecting your work?"
"I have many reasons, Penny. I don't think you want to hear them."
"Okay, fair enough," she said again, genuinely caring but not wanting to send him more out of his comfort zone than he already was.
"You really have these feelings for me?"
"Yes, sweetie. For a while now.”
"My life would be so much easier if I could just return those feelings. But can you possibly understand why I don't?"
"I do understand, Sheldon. Give me credit. I've known you for a long time. Why else do you think I haven't brought it up until now?"
"Penny, can't you see? That's why this is so difficult for me. As you said, you've known me for a long time. You are a good friend. You have all the standards of classical beauty as described by poets and artists throughout the ages. You bought a chair for me so I'd be comfortable in your apartment. You sing Soft Kitty when I'm sick. Don't you see how much easier it would be if I let myself have feelings for you? If I let myself think about it too much, it could become all I'd ever think about. Then I'd just be Leonard, and look what he's accomplished since he's met you."
"I don't know what to say. Thank you for being so honest with me."
"You deserve it," he said, somewhat shyly. He was so adorable when he wanted to be. "I'm flattered by your feelings, but I'm not sure there's a course of action that will satisfy both of us."
And then Sheldon was quiet again. While she was overjoyed he took her feelings seriously, this was still so frustrating. Why couldn't she just go across the hall, fall in bed with Leonard and never leave? Or better yet, find a nice, stable guy somewhere out in the world who could actually return her feelings in a normal, functional way? At least before she told him, she didn't have confirmation that nothing could ever happen between them. Where did she go now?
Penny was about to tell him he could leave if he wanted to; she was almost sure the environment was that awkward now, but then she felt an unsteady arm try to wrap itself around her shoulder. She turned her head to see Sheldon putting his arm around her. Instinctively, she leaned into him and smiled. She was completely shocked by this turn of events, but didn't want to say anything and ruin the moment.
"I believe this is what Amy called 'cuddling'. I thought I might try engaging in it to see how it felt with you instead of her. I know it brought her comfort when she needed it, and I sense that you need it right now."
"That is so sweet, Sheldon. Thank you." She did need it, and she did want it. It felt so nice to be in his arms. She felt a little pathetic about the whole situation, but Penny figured she could deal with that later. For now, he was holding her and it was all she wanted.
A few minutes later, she said, "How is it? Better or worse?"
"It's...nice." He refused to elaborate. Penny had to agree--it was very nice. He even stroked her hair for a few seconds, and she let out a tiny little sigh/moan.
They watched the next episode of Star Trek in this embrace. At some point, he took her hand and grasped it in his. For someone who wasn't adept in the art of hand-holding or even reasons why hand-holding would be wanted, he caught on fast. Penny was getting so turned on from these simple touches, she could barely keep herself from jumping on top of him. That would freak him out for sure, though.
"You confided in me and now I want to share something with you. It's something I've been pondering for a while, but up until now, I had no reason for practical application. Would you be willing to participate in an experiment? It may be pleasurable for you, but I cannot guarantee the experiment will be repeated in the future. This may be a one-time only situation. I would understand if that doesn't appeal to you, especially knowing the kind of emotions it may elicit from a woman afterwards."
Penny sensed where this was going, but to be sure, she said, "What kind of experiment are you talking about, Sheldon?"
"As in...coitus?!" She said, somewhat shocked but mostly turned on. She'd had some very dirty dreams where she was the one who de-virginized Sheldon, but she never in her life thought they'd come to fruition.
Sheldon looked pleased by her usage of one of his favorite words. "Yes, Penny, coitus, and, I suppose, foreplay. I've never experienced it, but I have to admit I've become curious. Especially after this enlightening conversation with you. I'm not trying to take advantage of you in any way, please keep that in mind."
"Oh, honey, are you sure? I don't want you to do anything you're uncomfortable with, okay? I wouldn't want to take advantage of you, either. That's the last thing I want. And for the record, my feelings for you are more than sexual, although they can be pretty explicit at times."
"You are the only woman in the world I'd trust with this situation," he said. "And since you've had so much experience, you'd be the best person to engage in these activities with me. I want you to teach me. And if I don't receive pleasure from these interactions, well, at least I'll be able to cross that off the list. I suppose sexual intercourse is a rite of passage for every man, right? I'm in my thirties, I should have gotten this over with a long time ago."
Penny felt like she should be offended, but she knew what he was saying. He wanted to get this out of the way, and the only person he'd want to do that with is her. It wasn't exactly the most romantic situation, but she wasn't going to kid herself and say she didn't want it. She wanted it. More than anything she'd ever wanted in her life, if you asked her at that moment. If it happened because of an experiment, so be it.
"I understand, and I am willing to participate. Do you want to do this now?"
"Yes. I feel that if I wait, I might, as less educated people say, 'chicken out'."
Penny nodded, speechless again. Was this really happening? It was so surreal.
"Bear with me. This is new territory for me."
"Oh, I know. I'll be gentle. You're safe in my hands. Not to mention the fact that I've wanted this for a long time now, Sheldon. I want you to know that. So this isn't just an experiment for me."
"You're saying that your emotions might be a factor, yes? I know that for women, sex isn't just about release. I will also keep that in mind. Will you let me know if it's too much? I don't want to overwhelm you."
"Of course. And please do the same for yourself."
Sheldon nodded. "Now, if you don't mind, take off your sweats, please. They're hideous."
Penny shrugged and took them off. At least she was wearing a sexy set of red underwear. He deserved to see what he was getting into up front. So to speak.
"Your breasts are very beautiful," he said, looking her up and down in a way that only turned her on more.
"You haven't seen nothin' yet," she said with a smile. "But Sheldon? Can we please kiss before we go any further? I want to kiss you." I need to kiss you.
"Yes, I assumed you'd be wanting that. To be honest, I have had a number of nocturnal emissions, much to my dismay, in dreams where I am just kissing you. Apparently my subconscious wants this to happen."
"Well...let's do it, then."
Before Sheldon could think about it too much, he leaned in and kissed her. It was quick and introductory and almost bordering on chaste. It was nice, but it was quick. He looked like he wanted to say something, but she didn't want him to ruin the moment, so she kissed him back. It was longer, and it was nicer, and she felt like maybe he was starting to enjoy it a little. Eventually she discretely tried licking his lip, and then his tongue. And then they were full-on french kissing, and Sheldon actually moaned. She ran her fingers through his hair and bit his lip a little to make it interesting. She thought for sure Sheldon would object to that, but instead he bit her lip in return.
God, she loved kissing Sheldon. She could do it all night, really, but they'd have to stop at some point if only to move onto second base. Eventually he pulled himself away from her and exhaled.
"Well, that was something I never anticipated happening."
"You and me both," Penny said, exhaling. "But it was nice. I really like kissing you, Sheldon. If this experiment somehow yields disastrous results, I want you to remember the kiss. I know I will."
He looked at her closely and if she didn't know any better, she'd think there was genuine affection in his eyes. Maybe it was just lust.
"I liked it more than I initially hypothesized. Your lips are optimum for a pleasurable experience."
"That means a lot to me, thank you. Are you ready for round two?"
He nodded hesitantly. "Now or never."
A/N - I'm glad you guys are enjoying this, it's kinda becoming a labor of love. There's at least five more chapters to come. Thanks for reading, and I love reviews. I love reviews like Sheldon loves cats. So please give me one so that Sheldon can have a cat. Thank you.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After more kissing--a lot more kissing--Sheldon sat back on the sofa and she gingerly straddled him, placing herself on top, facing him. Part of her knew he was going to hate this, and part of her knew that from the heat coming from his pants, he wasn't going to object.
They resumed kissing. Although Sheldon had never had an intimate experience like this before, he seemed to know at least the basics of what he was supposed to do. Penny figured it was partly his knowledge of basic biology plus a few Googling sessions that got out of hand. So when Penny placed his hand on her breast, he automatically touched her nipples through the lacy fabric of the bra and she moaned softly. Eventually he pulled down a strap and touched her naked nipple. She whispered in his ear, "That feels so good, sweetie." So he continued. He kissed her, and he touched her all over, and she moaned and moved against the hardness in his pants and everything was just so bright and electrified and she never wanted to stop.
He stopped kissing her long enough to put a supple nipple in his mouth and she cried out with pleasure.
"Is this okay?" He asked nervously.
"Oh, god, it's more than okay," she breathed.
So he continued. Licking and sucking and even biting just a little. Her moans seemed to encourage him, and soon they were in a full on make-out/groping session. She was enjoying all this attention on her, but the heat coming from his pants was intriguing and she wanted to experience it for herself.
She slid off him and unbuttoned his pants.
"Is this okay? If you're uncomfortable..."
"I'm not entirely sure if I'm comfortable yet. I'll let you know."
She took that as an okay to reach into his underwear (which did not depict any superheroes, much to her surprise) and pull out the biggest secret of the unknown universe, Sheldon Cooper's dick. Before that day, she hadn't spent much time thinking about what he was packing. But to her delight, it was rock hard and lengthy and beautiful and she couldn't wait to taste it. She didn't want to overwhelm him, though, so she stroked it and watched the expression on his face. Sheldon was closing his eyes and biting his lip and ugghhh he was just so sexy in his own Sheldon way.
"Is this okay? I'm not hurting you, am I?"
"The opposite, Penny. You are pleasuring me. I am experiencing quite a bit of desireable feelings that I've never even thought about before."
"Sheldon? I don't know if anyone has ever told you this before, but you are an extremely desireable man." For a moment, she thought about the first time she felt an attraction to him. It was when they were shopping for suits and he tried on that black one and looked like sex on a stick. Before that moment, Penny had just thought about him in a sisterly kind of way. But seeing him look so...manly made her realize that he was tall and cute and argghh, those blue eyes of his.
"Thank you," he breathed. "Please continue."
Penny didn't know a subtle or sexy way of asking if she could go down on him now, so she took a risk and took his dick into her mouth, sucking lightly at first. When he finally let out a moan, she sucked harder and faster. She licked the tip and then took it all the way in. (A fact about Penny that had made her very popular back in her more promiscous days: she had no gag reflex. She didn't know why; she just never had one. It took a while to realize that this was a rare thing and she learned to appreciate it more and more over the years.) Sheldon inhaled sharply and moaned. She continued for a few more minutes, doing some of her best work, until he said, "Penny? I think you should stop, unless you want this to end prematurely."
"Sure, honey," she said, and sat back on the sofa and wiped her mouth. "What did you think of that?"
"It was...different. Pleasurable, sure, but the exchange of germs was impossible not to think about."
"Sure, I can understand that. Do you need to take a shower now or something?
He thought about but shook his head. "Thank you for understanding and for the offer, but I want you to show me what's next."
"I can do that. Do you, um, want to touch me?"
"I do. I've always been curious about a woman's genitals. Not curious enough to look at them, but--"
"Wow, okay, I get the point," she said, really not wanting to hear what he thought women's genitals. He nodded. "Why don't we move to my bedroom? I promise I washed my sheets yesterday. It was a birthday gift to myself."
He agreed, and they moved to her bedroom.
Laying side by side and facing each other, they kissed again for a long time before Sheldon was brave enough to pull her closer to him and put a shaking, nervous hand in her panties. He was met with a cloud of wetness and a loud moan from Penny.
He touched her everywhere. His fingers were outside, inside, anywhere and everywhere. After a few minutes of fumbling around in the general area, Penny led his adept hand to her clit. Ahh, that was more like it. He followed her moans and soon they were in a crazy, sensuous rhythm.
Sheldon never stopped kissing her while he explored every region of her softness. How was he so good at this? He shouldn't have been so good at this.
"You're so wet," Sheldon said at one point, two fingers inside her with a thumb on her clit. She stopped moaning long enough to say, "You made me that way, honey."
"I like that," he said, looking proud of himself.
"I do, too. Oh, my godddd!" She arched her back and felt his fingers inside her; not believing it was Sheldon who was doing this to her, not believing he trusted her enough to let him to do this to her.
"Can I...taste you?" He whispered after a few minutes of her writhing, sweaty, sticky moans.
"If you want to...I understand if you don't want to do that."
"I want to experience everything. It's an experiment."
"Then yes. Please."
He took off her underwear and took a second to examine her pussy. She liked being exposed to him like that. She liked being his experiment. And she couldn't wait to fuck him. But patience. She had to have patience.
Going down on her was like a brand new puzzle to be solved for Sheldon. She could tell he had no idea what to do once he got down there. Penny wanted to show him, but once he started licking his way around, he managed to figure things out just fine. He seemed to enjoy the activity because he was down there for a while. "Stick a finger inside me," she told him, and he did, and she had to bite her lip to keep from screaming. It took a little bit longer than usual for her to come, but when she did, she came so hard and so forcefully that it almost hurt.
"Okay, okay, please stop," she said, gasping and panting.
"Why? Did it not feel good?"
"Oh, honey, no, it felt amazing. I had an orgasm and now it's a bit tender down there."
"Oh, okay. Good. Well, that was somewhat of an exhilarating experience," he said, moving back up to face her. "I have to admit enjoying the way you were moving, and the noise you were making. It made me feel proud of myself in a primitive, caveman kind of way."
"Well, you should be proud of yourself. It felt so good. I'm still recovering."
"That is good to know. While you recover, if you don't mind, I'd also like to take a minute to rest before we initiate sexual intercourse."
"Of course, sweetie." She wished he'd loosen up and not talk like a robot for this most intimate of days they were having, but he was, after all, Sheldon.
He lay on his back and held her hand in his. He stroked her hand with his thumb, which she found sweet and endearing. She wanted to ask what he was thinking, but then again, she probably didn't want to know what he was thinking. So she enjoyed the moment and let him take his time to breathe before the big stuff happened.
"Sheldon...we don't have to do this today. I know it's a massive step for you to take and we've already been through so much together. We can wait until you've had more time to think about it."
"I was pondering that, but I find myself curious about the actual act of coitus. And with the way you've been so understanding about my need to pace myself, I have complete trust and faith in you and the experience we're about to have."
Penny was truly speechless for a minute while she let that pass through her brain. When she was finally able to speak again, she said, "Thank you, sweetie. I'm so glad we're doing this together. I'm so honored by your faith and trust."
He hesitated before saying, "I have a basic knowledge of the intricacies of coitus, but I may need you to guide me."
"I know. And I will, and I'll be gentle, and it will be fine."
He nodded, and started kissing her again. It was about to happen. Sheldon was going to have sex. With Penny, of all people. There were so many things she wanted to say. Boundaries, emotions, lack of emotions. She wanted to tell him that no matter what happened when the sex was over, this was their day. It was something they shared between the two of them and nobody could take that away. But she didn't want to overwhelm him yet again. It was time to let this happen, and they'd deal with everything else later.
She opened her bedside table drawer and took a condom out. He looked at it curiously but didn't question it. Penny put the condom on gently as he watched her.
"Okay, sweetie, get on top of me, okay? I'll help you." He placed himself gently on top of her and they kissed for a long time. He still seemed a bit hesitant so she held off on taking it further just yet.
"Okay," he whispered, and she gently guided him to her pussy, and he slid inside her with a sharp breath.
When she felt him enter her, she cried out with instant pleasure. Just having him inside her was hot enough, but watching him, watching his face...he closed his eyes and bit his lip, concentrating on the movement of his body. She couldn't tell if he was enjoying it or not, but she sure was. It wasn't perfect and he was slightly clumsy, but he was a quick learner.
"Are you okay?" She whispered softly into his ear.
"Yes...oh, sweet lord, yes. Are you?"
"More than okay."
And she was more than okay. Her body shook with pleasure and she couldn't remember ever feeling like this before. But at the same time, Penny was having a rush of emotions and knew when this was over, things would probably be awkward and strained between them. He'd go home and take a 3 hour shower and she would write in the journal he got her about how vulnerable she was. But for now, he grabbed her hips and entered her over and over again as deeply as possible. And when she stopped him for a second to turn over, he said, "Is that what is commonly referred to as doggy style?"
"Yes, Sheldon, it is. Very good."
"I read about this. It apparently feels so good for the woman because it allows access to the g-spot."
"Yes, that's true."
"Okay." And he entered her gently from behind and took a minute to find his place. But soon they were moving together like music and she could tell he was loving it as much as she was.
"This feels so good," he said in her ear. "Your vagina is so wet and the muscles are so tight...that makes it so pleasurable for me, too."
"I'm so glad," she said, and screamed out again. She didn't even care that he wouldn't shut the fuck up, it felt so unbelievably amazing.
"Oh, my god, Penny...Penny...Penny...thank you...thank you for doing this with me..."
Together they clung to the moment and the way they felt and the emotions that took them both over as Sheldon had his first real orgasm. She turned around to watch him; she wanted to know everything he was feeling and how it affected him. He looked, well, like he was coming. And he looked relieved and happy and terrified and Penny had a rush of love that she knew could only be trouble. At least we have this, she thought. We'll always have this.
Sheldon bounced off the bed, threw away the condom and came back to her. Penny knew he wanted to go home, ponder what just happened, take a long shower, and she didn't blame him, really. And maybe he did want to, but he said, "Come here, Penny." She snuggled up to him and he spooned her. This was so out of the ordinary for him that she wondered if she was making it up in her dreams or something.
"Thank you. This experience meant a lot to me. It was very pleasurable and I'm so glad it was with you."
"Me too. Thank you for trusting me enough to go through with it."
They lay on her bed like that for a long time. It was almost evening now but the sun was still shining through her window, making her room look like a haven of sunlight. This was going to be a moment she would never forget, no matter what happened. And she'd be okay with whatever happened. If he went home and pretended the sex never took place, she'd be okay with that. At least that's what she kept telling herself. It was obviously a lie.
Eventually, Sheldon stirs and says, "Penny..."
"I know, you have to go home. I understand."
"I know you understand. That's one thing I appreciate about you. But Penny? It's not the only thing I appreciate about you. Give me some time, okay? I'm not in the same place you are, but I want to be."
"You what?" She said, and automatically regretted it. But what was he saying? And in such a human and non-robotic way, even?
"It's just becoming all so clear to me. You and I are nothing alike and we've had our battles over the years. And I would prefer to be alone than be in any kind of relationship. But if I didn't feel that way...being with you would be like breathing."
Ironically, Penny lost her breath. Nobody had ever said something so amazing to her before.
"Sheldon, I...I don't know what to say."
"You don't need to say anything. Just give me time. The way I felt when I was inside of you...I want to feel that way all the time."
"I want that too," she said softly. "I'll give you all the time you need."
Sheldon kissed her for a long time, but it was a different kiss. This one had the promise of something that neither of them could identify yet.
"I'll see you later," he said.
"Of course. And Sheldon? You know what day it is, don't you?"
He actually smiled at this and said, "Anything Can Happen Thursday. Ironic, isn't it?" And then he was gone.
A/N - Sooo I know this is a Sheldon we don't really know too well, but he has it in him to change, right? And at least we got all the sexual tension out of the way in the second chapter, right?
A few days later, Penny found herself at Leonard and Sheldon's for Thai food night. She and Sheldon hadn't talked much since he left her apartment, and as predicted, it was awkward. They were basically avoiding each other, and it was killing Penny. But he asked her to give him time. Obviously she couldn't wait forever. She liked to think of herself as the kind of girl who wouldn't wait for anyone, really. But she'd wait for him, at least for a while. He was worth it.
While they ate, Penny sat between Leonard and Sheldon on the couch and tried to ignore the intense feeling of wanting to sit on Sheldon's lap, or put her hand on his thigh, or kiss his ear, or do anything that would suggest they were more than 'just friends'. But instead she ate her food and tried to participate in the conversation as much as possible, which wasn't easy since they were, of course, talking about Star Trek. She tried to keep track of their spirited discussion about Captain Picard.
"He cared too much," Howard was saying. "It got in the way of smart decision making. I can name at least five times when he should have made a different decision but didn't because he 'cared' so much."
"You're crazy," Leonard said. "It was because of his empathy that he was a successful captain. He made things happen, you can't deny that."
"I can deny that. He had a lot of weaknesses. Remember when-"
"As the man himself once said, 'It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life'." Four confused and intrigued heads swung in Penny's direction.
"What you guys are forgetting is that his archaeologist background gave him a much better understanding of the planets they encountered. He could appreciate the landscape and the culture much better than the other captains. That made the lifeforms on those planets respect him. Like Hugh. Because of Hugh, Picard decided not to destroy the Borg and then eventually the Borg destroyed themselves. So I think Picard was the best captain because he really, truly cared."
Apparently she had rendered the boys speechless. They were incapable of coming up with any kind of response for what seemed like years. Finally Leonard said, "Okay, who are you and what did you do with Penny?"
"Penny has been watching a lot of the Next Generation lately," Sheldon said. "Apparently she's been able to pick up on the reasons why Picard is the preeminent captain of the franchise."
Nobody asked why Sheldon knew what Penny was watching in her spare time...he always knew the weirdest things.
To change the subject, Penny started rambling. "Oh, and did you guys see what happened on Jersey Shore? Snooki was all up in Vinny's junk. It was so gross. It's like, how are you ever going to marry Jioni if you can't stop being a slut for five minutes, you know what I mean?" Penny was quite sure nobody knew what she meant. But she had to contribute that to the conversation just to feel like herself again.
The boys stared at her blankly and then continued their Star Trek debate. She tuned them out, way too distracted by Sheldon's thigh grazing hers, and the fact that he felt compelled to contribute Penny's Star Trek viewing habits to the conversation. Like he was proud of himself for knowing, and proud of her for watching. Or something.
Howard started to make a case for why Captain Kirk was the most bad-ass captain of them all. Sheldon and Raj were arguing with him and it was getting loud. Sheldon started to look bored. And just when Penny was sure she needed to make an excuse and get out of there before her hormones exploded all over Sheldon, he leaned over and whispered, "Penny...I have to tell you something that I find hard to admit."
"Really? Go ahead, sweetie, you know you can tell me anything."
He paused for a moment and it looked like he was trying to summon up some courage. She waited patiently. Mostly because she was sure what he was about to say would probably break her heart in some kind of way. He was probably going to tell her that he couldn't continue this charade and she didn't need to wait for him anymore.
"Sometimes...sometimes I can still taste you. Sometimes I can still even feel you. What have you done to me?"
Penny literally stopped breathing. Okay, maybe not literally, but it sure felt like it. Was this real life? In what universe did Sheldon say things like that? Think things like that? Instead of losing her cool, she whispered back, "Oh, yeah? We haven't even begun, sweetie. I can teach you things. You won't ever want to leave my bedroom."
And the way he looked at her after that was carnal and sexy and Penny never hated the other three guys for...for...for existing as much as she did at that moment. She wished she could bite him or...mount him or something. Mark her territory. Instead, Sheldon put his hand on her knee for a brief moment. Never had anything so simple felt so tantalizing and erotic. It shouldn't have turned her on so much. But it did. And she was.
Raj poked Howard and whispered in his ear-apparently he wasn't partaking in alcoholic beverages with his meal. Howard nodded and said, "I'm curious, too. Sheldon, what are you whispering to Penny? Are you the one who gave her all that Picard information just so she could freak us out or something?"
"No, although I agree with what she was saying, I would have presented my argument for Picard in a much more eloquent way." Penny scoffed. She'd make him pay for that later. "Penny was just telling me what she was going to get you for your birthday, Raj. And I was telling her that was a terrible present and you didn't care for such extravagant gifts."
Penny had no idea where that came from, but it amused her anyway.
Raj looked disappointed. He whispered again to Howard, who said, "He wants Penny to know that she should feel free to give him whatever she feels is right. And if she has any extra single girlfriends, he wouldn't object to that, either."
"Where would I have the time to find more female friends, you guys? I'm always here."
"While we do appreciate the eye candy you bring to the table, we do often wonder why you are, as you say, always here. Any normal girl would have gotten tired of us a long time ago." Howard said. Leonard gave him a death glare.
"I'm here because I want to be. I like learning stuff from you guys. And sometimes Sheldon gives me chocolate." And orgasms, she thought to herself. "Um, I just remembered I left my oven on. I'll be back in a minute." She gave Sheldon a look, and she went across the hall to her apartment. If he didn't take the hint, she was going to-
"Penny?" Knock. "Penny?" Knock. "Penny?" Knock. He took the hint. She opened the door and there he was. Dorky as ever. And all she wanted to do was throw him against the wall and have her way with him.
But she still didn't want to freak him out. Penny wasn't stupid; she knew that even though Sheldon's hormones were making him feel the way he did, she was sure he wasn't in that place yet. The place where she was. The place where they could have an honest, healthy, physical, trusting relationship. She didn't want to take advantage of his newly found sex drive, so instead of leading him straight into the bedroom, she just waited for what he had to say.
"We just ate dinner and you had Quizno's for lunch. Therefore you'd have no reason to bake anything today. That's why I knew your oven wasn't on."
"Very good, Sheldon. Why do you think I came back here for a moment, then?"
"Maybe because you are also unable to stop thinking about this," he said, and right there against the door, he kissed her. It was long and deep and he bit her lip and she moaned and held on to him with every fiber of her being and she couldn't imagine ever letting go of him, and where did her old annoying friend Sheldon go and why couldn't she stop kissing him-
Finally he pulled away and said, "We should go back. They're going to send a search party out soon."
"Yeah," she said, disappointed that it had to end. Who knows when they'd be back here again.
"Yeah?" She said again, not able to be any more eloquent than that.
"Thanks." Before she could ask what the hell he was thanking her for, he was gone. Still feeling the kiss lingering on her lips, she followed him across the hall like a puppy. When she sat back down, she looked at him and was glad she wasn't wearing lipstick. However, lack of evidence didn't seem to deter Leonard from looking at both of them suspiciously.
"Now, what was that about?" Leonard asked, getting that unattractive look on his face; the one that suggested Penny had done something wrong. It was one of the reasons why she broke up with him.
"I was concerned. About Penny's oven." Sheldon said. Penny inwardly groaned. He was going to have to get so much better at lying.
"I told him earlier that I was smelling something weird and he thought it was coming from the oven so yeah, that's what happened."
Leonard shook his head but didn't continue this line of questioning. Penny was sure they were all about to get themselves in trouble, in more ways than one.
Howard and Raj left soon after they finished eating. Leonard, Sheldon and Penny sat together and watched a mutually agreed upon viewing of the Good Wife. Sheldon usually hated anything non-science fiction, but he loved him some Alicia Florrick for some unknown reason. Penny just wanted to see what Mr. Big was up to this week.
Leonard was yawning and sinking further and further into the couch. He was obviously tired but didn't seem to want to leave Penny and Sheldon alone. When the Good Wife was over, Leonard glanced at them and said, "Well, it's pretty late..."
"Yes, it is," Sheldon said. Penny nodded.
"Oh. Well. Okay. Good night?"
"Good night," Penny wished to holy hell that he'd shut the fuck up and leave them alone already.
Leonard looked so confused as he walked back to his room. When the door closed, Sheldon took Penny's hand.
"As much as I'd like to come back to your apartment with you, I think it's premature in our...whatever this is to do so. And as you can see, Leonard is quite suspicious of us already. So I think we'll have to postpone our, ahem, experiment, until a later time."
"When?" She asked, feeling pathetic. What was it about him that made her feel so weak in the knees? Leonard never made her feel like that. Hell, no man had.
"I don't know...I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the coitus that occurred on Anything Can Happen Thursday. Time, Penny. Please. Give me time."
"I know, I'm trying. I just..." Want you so bad. Need you so much. "Never mind. Just let me know when you're ready to try again."
"Thank you for understanding." He walked her to the door and gave her a soft kiss with just enough tongue to make sure she'd be thinking about it for days. At least he could kiss her without freaking out. That seemed like a huge step in the right direction.
"It won't be that long. Something inside of me seems to have shifted. I'm not sure if it's good or bad. At first I thought I was ill, and I went to the doctor and described my symptoms. He laughed at me, Penny. And when I told him about you, he suggested that I wasn't ill and in fact had feelings of-well, you know."
Penny grinned. "You told your doctor about me? You're such a dork."
"Yes, well, even with that being the case, all I know is that I need to touch you again soon or my lifeforce will just simply cease operation. That's what the doctor told me, anyway."
She didn't know what the hell that meant but she was still amazed by his words. And she silently thanked this doctor who, even though she'd never met him, was apparently looking out for her.
"Good, Sheldon. My lifeforce wants your lifeforce to exist as long as possible. Because sooner or later, I want you inside of me again." She smiled at him and then walked inside her apartment and closed the door. This time, she'd be the one to leave him hanging.
Sheldon and Penny went about their daily lives the rest of the week, only bumping into each other once or twice and exchanging the required pleasantries. Penny wanted to give him plenty of room to figure out what he wanted, but she was hoping he'd spend more time with her while he did that. It turned out he wasn't much of a multitasker.
Instead of sitting around and waiting, though, she went out with the girls almost every night, worked out every day, wrote a few chapters of her novel...it turned out sexual frustration was an excellent motivator for productivity. She desperately wanted to talk to Bernadette and Amy about what was happening with Sheldon, but Bernadette was so excited about her upcoming wedding to Howard that she couldn't shut up about it. As for Amy...Penny had no idea how Amy would take the news. Amy wanted so badly for Sheldon to give into her physical wishes, but he barely even tolerated cuddling, and here he was making out with Penny whenever she could get him alone. She was pretty sure that this particular confession would have to wait a few months. Or years.
Penny found herself looking forward to Saturday more than what was bearable. Saturday was laundry night. She was a little depressed that laundry was her biggest thrill of the week, but she always did laundry with Sheldon. So Penny had to think to herself, he couldn't avoid laundry day, could he? It was like the most important day of the week for him.
It turns out he couldn't. At 8:15 sharp, there were the knocks and the Penny Penny Pennys as usual. She opened the door with a ridiculously happy smile and said, "Hey, sweetie. Let's do it."
They walked down to the tiny laundry room together. Penny wanted to hold hands or something, but one step at a time.
"So what did you do today?" Sheldon asked as he dumped his whites in a washer. "I myself watched almost an entire season of Doctor Who while I wrote a paper on particle theory for an upcoming seminar. It was a very satisfying day."
Penny blinked. "Well, that sounds...awesome. Today was pretty much all about GTL."
"What is that? Some kind of recreational drug I haven't heard about yet?"
"Gym. Tan. Laundry."
"I see. You spent a lot of time in germ factories today. I guess we both have our definitions of fun." He looked somewhat disgusted. Penny guessed she wasn't going to be getting any after the laundry was done. He was such a friggin' weirdo. Good thing he was so adorable. And so damn good in bed.
Speaking of which...
"So do you have any plans for tomorrow night?" He tried to ask casually.
"Nope. I'm working the after-church shift and after that, Amy has a date and Bernadette is doing wedding stuff, so I was just going to hang out, maybe do some writing."
"Really? Who is Amy dating?"
She couldn't help but feel a tiny pang of jealousy in his curious question.
"I'll give you one guess. He's creepy and he likes comic books."
"Well, that describes a number of the socially awkward misfits I like to call my friends, Penny. You'll have to elaborate."
"Stuart. She's going out with Stuart. I personally don't see the appeal but she's a kooky girl. Why? Jealous?"
"Of course I'm not jealous. I have a high IQ and I'm going to have a Nobel Prize someday. The only thing Stuart has to look forward to is moving out of his mother's basement. No, Amy can do whatever she likes, we no longer have a relationship agreement. But why I asked about your plans is because...I wanted to ask you out on a date."
Penny smiled. It was not a small smile. It was a huge, all-encompassing smile that hurt her face. It was so big, it even made Sheldon grin.
"Really? I mean-really?"
"Well, it isn't my idea of a swell time or anything, but I know normal social conventions are important to you."
Penny exhaled. He was so utterly impossible. And yet so effing charming all at the same time. What was she going to do with him?
"Sheldon Cooper, I would love to go on a date with you. What time will you pick me up? And by that I mean when am I going to drive us to wherever we're going?"
"I will come collect you at 7:00, if that's agreeable. We'll go to dinner. And then we'll see what happens after that."
"After that? And what exactly do you mean by that, Dr. Cooper?"
He thought about it for a second. She could tell he was trying to figure out if she was asking literally what he meant by that, or if she was just being flirtatious. It was so interesting to watch his mind work.
"I don't know. I guess we'll both have to be surprised." Well, it wasn't the sexiest answer but he was trying.
In the name of flirty banter (and just to mess with him a little), she took her sexiest black bra and panties from her laundry basket and said, "Good thing I'm washing these, then," and winked at him. He turned a bright shade of pink and she laughed.
"Come here," he said. She obeyed, and he kissed her chastely and discretely put a warm hand under her shirt and squeezed. "You tease me, I tease you." He grinned, and then escaped out of the laundry room. Penny couldn't help but laugh. This was one weird relationship they were making for themselves. They either avoided each other completely or groped each other in the laundry room. Penny wasn't sure what the hell was going on, but she was looking forward to finding out.
Penny took a long time getting dressed for this date. She finally decided on a fairly short skirt and a black form-fitting, cleavage-showing top. It wasn't that she wanted Sheldon to find her sexy; she already knew he was attracted to her. Mostly, she just wanted this to feel like a real date. Not just an excursion with the guy who lived across the hall. If they were going to do this, she wanted it to feel like they were doing it. Well, it made sense in her head, anyway.
When Sheldon came to collect her, she opened her door nervously and peeked out. He was looking hot in his black suit and she wanted to skip dinner altogether.
"Is Leonard home?"
"No, he and Raj went to a bar to engage in frivolous mating games. He actually wanted me to come, could you believe that?"
"He should know you better than that by now," Penny agreed.
"I believe it is standard for me to tell you that you look very nice this evening," he said, avoiding her eyes.
"It's only a standard if you, in fact, think that I look very nice," she said, messing with him again. It was always going to be fun to mess with Sheldon.
He sighed. "Yes, I do find that you are looking quite attractive. Especially in comparison to the tank tops and sweats you normally wear around me."
She swatted him lightly on the arm and said, "That's so charming, sweetie. And come on, you love my sweats."
"I like you better out of them," he muttered. She laughed, trying to hide her shock that he actually said those words out loud.
In the car, she tried to listen to the Guns N' Roses CD that was permanently stuck in her CD player, but Sheldon kept turning it off so they could play car games. Someday she'd make him listen to the CD that she'd rocked out to on so many occasions. Maybe after she got her engine checked.
When Sheldon finally paused to take a breath from his relentless car games, Penny said, "Oh, I meant to tell you, I had that interview at the university. Dr. Carter was so nice and we really got along. She said she'll call me this week about the job."
"Oh, yes, she told me. She was, in fact, quite impressed with you, even though you possess almost no experience for such a position. There's a learning curve, though, and I think with your new found confidence in writing, you'll pick it up quickly."
She was always trying to figure out if she should be flattered or offended by the things he said to her.
"Yeah, it sounded like it wouldn't be hard to figure out. Thanks again for the opportunity. I appreciate your faith in me."
He looked at her, looking so serious and so handsome. "I want you to do well in your life, Penny. I'm sorry if it doesn't come across that way. For the record, I think you're smart and creative and attractive and you deserve to be happy. And we both know working at the Cheesecake Factory isn't going to make you happy."
And then her heart melted all over everything and made a huge giant disgusting mess.
"Thank you, sweetie. You don't know what that means to me. I'm not just saying this because you just said all those amazing things, but I want you to know...I want you to know that I think you're brilliant. And so handsome. And you're going to win that Nobel Prize in the next couple of years. I have complete faith in you."
"Well, all that goes without saying, but thank you." He reached over and caressed her arm for just a brief moment and gave her an adoring look that she'd probably always remember. He could be brave and shy and mysterious all he wanted, but the look and the touch gave him away. Sheldon Cooper was crazy about her. In his own way, granted, but crazy about her nonetheless.
At the Mexican food restaurant that they were both way too overdressed for, Penny ordered a martini with extra olives. Sheldon ordered a strawberry margarita, much to her surprise.
"You don't drink, Sheldon. What's up?"
He sighed. "I know you like it when I tell you what I'm 'feeling', Penny, so I'll tell you. I'm nervous. My palms are sweating. My heart is racing. And I've read alcohol helps out in these awkward situations."
Penny was almost offended but she had to admit that it was kind of awkward. They didn't really go out to eat by themselves much, especially not since he'd met Amy.
"I get it. Thanks for your honesty. I have to say, it's really nice to hang out with you, you know, one on one. We haven't gotten to see each other much over the past couple of years, what with you and Amy and Leonard and I. Isn't this nice?"
"It is nice, yes. We do have a certain rapport that I've never had with anyone else. But Penny...well, never mind."
"Oh, come on, like I'm going to let you get away with that. You can tell me what's on your mind. I won't judge you. Much."
"Well, in light of this recent endeavor we find ourselves participating in, doesn't it ever worry you that...ahem...we have nothing in common?"
Penny's heart sank. She knew he had to be thinking something like that somewhere in that big brain of his. It just kind of sucked to know she was right.
"I wouldn't say nothing, sweetie. Let's see, we both like French toast. We enjoy a fondness for sitting on our asses and watching TV for long periods of time. Age of Conan. We both hate Howard Wolowitz."
Sheldon nodded. "That is one thing we can definitely agree on."
"And...I know one of your secrets."
He suddenly looked nervous, like he was hiding something under his bed and she just found out.
"I have no secrets, Penny. I challenge you to come up with one secret. It will be impossible."
"It's not impossible. I know what it is. You like country music."
Sheldon gasped and looked horrified. Penny laughed.
"Oh, come on, honey. It's no big deal. You're from Texas, I'm from Nebraska. Neither of us could escape country music growing up in our hick towns. Embrace it. I have."
"So you came to this conclusion just based on where I grew up? That's terrible evidence, Penny. You would not be a good scientist."
"I have empirical evidence, actually. I saw your Garth Brooks CD. I won't reveal where I found it but I know it exists. And it's okay. I love Garth Brooks. I've seen him live five times!"
"Twice," he whispered. "I've seen him twice. My sister loves him more than she loves Jesus."
Penny laughed. "See? We have that in common. Now eat your rice and beans."
They ate in silence. Comfortable silence.
"You're not worried that aside from our mutual hatred for Howard Wolowitz, country music, certain sweet foods and a computer game that we both enjoy playing in our leisure time, we don't have anything else in common?"
Penny sighs. "Yes, of course I worry about that. We are very different people. But if you have feelings for me-and you damn well know I have feelings for you-then you have to be willing to try to open your mind. Before I met you guys, I'd never seen a single episode of Star Trek. Now I'm practically writing Next Generation fanfic."
"It's easier for you to change. You're not so set in your ways. You don't need everything as organized as I do. What am I supposed to do?"
"You mean I'm not as anal as you are. I'm not trying to change you, Sheldon. I would never do that. I just want you to be able to compromise."
"That's hard for me," he admitted.
"I know it is. We'll do it together, though, okay? And if it doesn't work out, at least we tried."
"I can agree to that. Of course, later, when we've had a fight that makes you blame everything on this moment that we're having right now, I'm going to blame my acquiescing to the fact that I am slightly inebriated."
Sometimes, usually when she wanted to kill him the most, he looked like a vulnerable little boy.
But two hours later in her bedroom, he looked the exact opposite.
Thanks for reading! Any feedback is welcome and appreciated.
When they got back to the apartment, Penny was expecting maybe, at best, a good-night kiss. But when they arrived at her door, Sheldon looked at her impatiently. Penny may not have been as smart as Sheldon, but she knew when a man wanted to come inside after a date.
"Well, Sheldon, do you want to come in for some coffee?"
He started to tell her he didn't drink coffee, but then he thought about it for a minute. Finally, he said, "Is that some kind of euphemism for coitus?"
Penny snorts. "I don't know, why don't you come in and see?"
"Penny, I..." He stops. And looks confused.
"It's okay, sweetie. I'm not going to attack you the minute we walk in the door. I have your best interests at heart, believe me. Come in, okay? I'm not ready for the date to end."
"I suppose I wouldn't mind prolonging the evening," he said, and she shook her head while she unlocked the door.
Penny made them some hot chocolate and they sat in their respective seats, at least at first. Penny thought it was a little ridiculous, but she knew he was probably gathering the nerve to initiate what they both couldn't stop thinking about for the past week and a half. Time. He needed time. She would not be impatient. She would give him time.
They watched a Voyager rerun silently and Penny found herself tuning out. Instead she thought about the things she wanted to do to Sheldon Cooper immediately in her bedroom. She always knew she was kind of a horny person by nature, but lately it was nonstop. And merely at the thought of one single person; a man who had previously driven her so crazy she daydreamed particularly exciting scenarios where she murdered him in his sleep.
While she was deep in thought, she felt a thud next to her on the sofa. Sheldon had finally decided to sit next to her. She smiled at him and put her hand on his thigh. He didn't move it. He didn't flinch. Moving right along here, she thought.
Just as Janeway was figuring out the headaches that were plauging her so often were the work of an alien sticking invisible needles in her head, Sheldon took her hand. She put her head on his shoulder. If she closed her eyes, it was just like he was a real boyfriend.
"I find myself wanting to kiss you right now."
"Are you asking my permission, or..."
"I'm just finding it fascinating that I'm having these feelings. It's a normal social convention to go on an outing to a mutual agreed upon restaurant and then come back and kiss, right?"
Penny stared at him for a second before remembering that he was basically an alien when it came to dating. He and Amy's idea of a good date was reading passages from their latest studies over Skype.
"Yes, honey, it's normal." Now shut up and kiss me, for fuck's sake.
"Fascinating." And then he kissed her. It was a better kiss than all the other kisses combined. He's been thinking about this one, Penny thought. Planning it. He put his hands on her face and kissed her so gently at first that she couldn't help but moan. A little moaning seemed to go a long way with Sheldon, because he deepened the kiss, and sooner or later they were completely connected and Penny didn't even know if she existed in this earthly realm anymore.
After 23 minutes of the most intense kissing she'd ever experienced-and yes, she looked at the clock to verify that-he pulled away and took a deep breath.
"Damn it, Sheldon!"
"What?" He looked alarmed. "Did I harm you in some way?"
"No! You're just...really good at that. The kissing."
He chuckled. "Penny, you should know that about me by now. When I set out to do something, I will succeed."
"Cocky. I like it." She didn't really like it that much, actually, but she figured he could use the encouragement.
"For the record, I think that you are also quite adept at kissing. Amy kissed me a few times but I didn't derive any pleasure from it. I am fascinated by how different it feels with you."
Penny felt a sudden pang of sadness for her sweet friend Amy. At the same time, she was delighted he felt that way.
"Well, sweetie, can I offer an explanation as to why you feel that way?"
"Of course, I would love to hear your thoughts."
"Maybe...maybe it's because you've known me longer and you feel more comfortable around me? And perhaps you, um, have stronger feelings towards me than you did with Amy?" She knew she was probably crossing a line here, but she couldn't help it. Sometimes a girl needed a little validation.
"Hmm, interesting. I suppose those are all valid theories." And that was all she was getting from him.
And then there was more kissing. While she loved the kissing and could probably do it all night, Penny had a few ideas for where to take this show on the road next. These plans included what she was good at. But he was so new to this and she was okay with letting him lead the way with whatever he was comfortable with, at least for now. Hopefully in the future he'd loosen up. Penny chuckled at the thought of Sheldon loosening up.
To her surprise, Sheldon finally detached himself from her lips and stood up. He pulled her up from the sofa and led her to the bedroom. She giggled happily.
Penny managed to have a productive week full of friends and work and possibly a new job, but always lingering in her brain (and her heart. And her groin.) was the thought of Sheldon Cooper in her bed. The way he touched her. The way they moved together. His lack of experience and his thirst for consuming her. She couldn't stop thinking about it. And now they were back, and he was kissing her and touching her and she was taking his shirt off and he was taking her pants off and more kissing and touching and she couldn't imagine anything ever being more frustrating and delicious at the same time.
"Oh god, Sheldon, what?" She didn't mean to sound impatient, but she wished he would just do what he wanted to do instead of asking her. It kind of ruined the moment, as impossible as that was.
"I want...I want something."
"Just tell me what it is, sweetie, okay? Don't be shy. It's me. I won't judge you."
"I want to see you touch yourself."
Oh. She didn't see that one coming. But now he'd be the one to see her coming.
Instead of responding, she just opened her legs for him. He moved to have a better view. Silently, she did as he asked, watching him closely, wanting to know what this was doing to him. It was making her so wet, having him study her like that, with bright-eyed fascination and lust. It was almost (almost) better than sex.
Right as she was about to make herself come, he took over. Sheldon mimicked the way she was touching herself and then she knew why he asked. It was so he could pleasure her more efficiently. Well, it worked, and his fingers brought her to the brink over and over and over.
"Oh...Sheldon...please...I can't take it anymore. Please..."
"What do you want me to do?" He whispered-but not in a confused way. In a carnal way. A forceful way. Like he was demanding she tell him what she wanted.
"I want you inside me."
"You want what?"
"Fuck me, Sheldon. I want you to fuck me."
"Well, you just had to ask nicely, Penny."
And then they were having sex for the second time. And he didn't even need help with the condom. Again, it took a minute or two for him to figure out what he was doing, but soon he was right at home. In between shrieks of intense pleasure, Penny couldn't help but think how surreal this all still was. Since when did Sheldon talk like that? Since when was he able to completely toss all his inhibitions aside and talk to her so dirty? Kurt never even talked to her like that. This was weird and strange and holy balls did it turn her on like crazy.
When it was over, and it was not over quickly, they lay together holding hands. Penny was satisfied and exhausted and happy and confused. Yes, the sex was good and she was proud of Sheldon for getting out of his comfort zone to experiment with her. But her feelings for him were more than just sexual. Sometimes she thought maybe his feelings didn't go beyond that.
"Will you spend the night with me?" She already knew the answer, but he needed to know it was what she wanted.
He hesitated before he answered. Penny could tell he was trying to think of a white lie to cushion the blow, and she didn't appreciate it.
"You can just tell me that you'd rather not. Let's be honest with each other. It's easier that way.
"Duly noted. I would rather go back to my own apartment so that I can take a shower and wake up in my own bed, so that my morning routine isn't dramatically altered."
"What if I spent the night with you, then?"
Sheldon grasped her hand. His hand was cold when she thought it would be hot.
"I'm not sure that would be prudent until Leonard is up to speed on our situation."
It was funny how soon Penny went from being in the throes of passion with this man to wanting to pull his fingernails out one by one.
"Do you picture yourself ever wanting to spend the night with me?"
He didn't bother trying to explain himself and she was grateful. If he told her to give him more time again, or if he said he's still trying to process this, or that it was an experiment and it was still in process, she wouldn't be responsible for her actions. She didn't want to be that girl-Penny was never that girl. The one who nagged to get what she wanted. That wasn't her and she never wanted it to be. But he was making her feel all kinds of things she'd never felt before. At that moment, in her bed, after what was probably the best sex of her entire life, she wondered if he was bringing out the worst in her while she was bringing out the best in him.
It was awkward. It shouldn't have been awkward.
"This is awkward," Sheldon said.
"Yeah. It is."
"Maybe it's time to terminate this experiment."
"What? Sheldon, why would you want to do that?"
"While I'm enjoying the sexual component of the arrangement we're engaging in, I can see that you need more than that. And I want to give it to you, but I don't know how capable I am of doing so. And Penny? I don't ever want to be the guy who disappoints you. You deserve more than that."
Ughhh. How did he do it?
"Oh, sweetie, you aren't disappointing me. Look, if we all gave up on relationships when the first sign of trouble presented itself, no couple would ever make it past the first month. We have some obstacles, but I think it's worth giving it a shot. But if you don't think it's worth it, I'd rather you tell me now before I become any more emotionally invested." Which was practically impossible at this point, but he didn't need to know that.
"Penny, as much as I've tried to talk myself out of it, I find you utterly irresistable, adorable, desireable, charming...before you came along, I was convinced my life was perfectly reasonable and I didn't need the comfort and complications a female companion would bring to it. But now I can't see a scenario where you being absent from my life would have a positive outcome. So yes, I think it's worth it, and thank you for your extreme patience when it comes to my social and romantic ineptitude."
Well, that was about as much romance as she could expect from him. But it was enough, and she loved him for it, and she knew she was in deep trouble, and this was probably not going to end well but she was sure as fuck going to go down trying.
"For what it's worth, thank you for trying so hard for me. It means a lot and it doesn't go unnoticed. I will try to be more patient."
"Fair enough." He leaned over and kissed her one more time. It took her breath away how good he was at making her forget just how insane he was making her.
Soon, Sheldon was gone and Penny was alone. Someday they'd figure this out. He was her Dr. Whack-a-Doodle. They had to figure it out.
Harry Burns: With whom did you have this great sex?
Sally Albright: I'm not going to tell you that.
Harry Burns: Fine, don't tell me.
Sally Albright: Shel Gordon.
Harry Burns: Shel? Sheldon? No, no, you did not have great sex with Sheldon.
Sally Albright: I did, too.
Harry Burns: No, you didn't. A Sheldon can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Sheldon's your man... but humpin' and pumpin' is not Sheldon's strong suit. It's the name. 'Do it to me, Sheldon, you're an animal, Sheldon, ride me, big Shel-don.' Doesn't work.
- When Harry Met Sally -
Sometimes Penny just wanted to blurt it out. When the boys were over and they were playing vintage games and eating pizza or at the comic store or the movies, she just wanted to yell, "You guys! Sheldon and I are lovvvverrrs!" But keeping such a huge secret was also part of the fun. They were a scandal. The two of them were like outlaw lovers. Romeo and Juliet. At least this is how she'd romanticize the relationship when she was really bored.
But it wasn't exactly the romance of the century, at least not yet. It was difficult to settle into a routine, and extra hard to sneak around with Leonard always hanging out in the apartment. Since he was single, he spent a lot of time at home. Penny was caught between feeling sorry for him and wanting him gone forever.
At some point, the sex stopped being an experiment and started to become a normal part of their lives. As Sheldon became more confident, somehow the sex got even better. He knew every little thing that turned her on and used them frequently. Kissing the soft skin under her ear. A gentle spanking. Two fingers inside of her, thumb on her clit. He loved hearing her passionate cries. They'd spend hours in her bedroom, no music, no TV, just the sound of gasping and moaning and, occasionally, screaming. Much to her surprise, he was open to some of her kinkier suggestions. Handcuffs was something they both very much enjoyed.
They didn't spend all their time in bed. They went out on real, actual dates. Bowling, movies, dinner. But her favorite date nights were the ones where they camped out in her apartment and just talked or listened to music (she was slowly introducing him to her favorite bands and singers...needless to say, Sheldon now knew about Radiohead) or cooked together. She had to give Sheldon credit-while she did have to spend a lot of time adapting to his routines, he was really making an effort to adapt to her lack of a routine. Of course, he still never spent the night. Something that was really starting to get on her nerves. But it was give and take and for the most part, Penny was happy.
Penny had also gotten the job as a part-time grant writer, which meant she was spending some time at the university. Most of the time she avoided randomly visiting Sheldon in his office, even though she wanted to all the time. For one thing, it would upset his routine, and god knows she didn't want to do that. Not to mention with Raj working with him so frequently, it would look a little strange for her to just pop in and make out with Sheldon and then go back to her job.
One day, while Penny was in the middle of a grant concerning funding for the Entomology department (okay, so it was boring as hell but it was helping her develop writing skills, and the pay was nothing to sneeze at), she got a text.
Tonight, 8:00. Wear something nice.
She couldn't help but smile. It was a pizza night. He must have some big plans if he was going to miss pizza night.
Where are we going?
It's a surprise.
Sheldon? A surprise? He really was evolving. Penny was so proud of him.
If it's a good enough surprise, maybe I'll surprise you later. Wink.
He responded an hour later. Okay, but no more whipped cream. Do you know how unsanitary that is?
She laughed and put her phone away. Her co-worker Hannah, a mother in her forties, said, "That smile has to be because of a man."
"Oh, it is. One very strange little man. But he's my strange little man."
Hannah suddenly looked very serious. "Enjoy this time while it lasts, honey. The honeymoon period ends way too soon and someday you'll find yourself working in a dead-end job with three kids, an asshole husband and an ingrown hair in a place where you don't want an ingrown hair. Oh, I'm so jealous of you right now. That shiny happy stage of love. I'm just saying...don't take it for granted."
Penny chuckled. "Believe me, I don't. But thank you for the advice. And for the visual."
And at 8:00 that night when Sheldon showed up in a brand new suit looking handsome as ever, she thought about what Hannah said. Penny wasn't taking it for granted. She loved every minute of whatever it was happening between the two of them. It was yet to be defined, but she didn't need it to be. Sheldon's actions spoke much louder than his words. The way he touched her, even when they weren't having sex. The way he looked at her sometimes when he thought she didn't notice. Penny knew he had feelings for her. She also knew he was struggling with those feelings. This was all so new for him, and she tried to respect that.
"You look very handsome this evening, Dr. Cooper," Penny said after all the knocking and the PENNY PENNY PENNY occurred. "I am delighted to be your date for the evening."
"You look quite becoming too, Penny."
She pulled him closer to her and whispered, "Want to know a secret? I'm not wearing underwear."
Sheldon looked horrified. "Penny! Do you know how completely unsanitary that is? Do you know how many disgusting things you can catch from public-"
"Relax, Moonpie. I'm just messing with you. My underwear is secured."
"But maybe we can talk about unsecuring it later."
He shook his head and took her hand to lead her down the stairs. He didn't really like to joke about sex. She thought it was interesting that when they weren't in the bedroom, the part of him that enjoyed and embraced sex was mostly kept under wraps. Penny guessed he was still getting used to the new experiences he spent so long telling himself he didn't want or need. It was a bit disconcerting but she understood.
Sheldon gave her directions to the mystery restaurant they were going to. He even let her play the Guns N' Roses CD, although he complained about every single song.
When they arrived to the Greek restaurant Penny had never been to, in an area of town she'd never even heard of, as soon as she got out of the car, Sheldon was by her side. He even held her hand as they walked inside, and she couldn't help but wonder what he was up to. Sheldon was not inherently a romantic man. He was in his own way, but any normal, society-approved romantic gestures were not his style. And lately he was full of it. Romance, that is.
A man with a Greek accent warmly welcomed them inside. "Dr. Cooper! It has been such a long time since we've seen you!"
"Yes, Gary, I suppose it has been a long time. Oh, where are my manners? This is Penny. She's my date for the evening."
"Oh, my, Dr. Cooper has a date! I never thought I'd see the day."
"Nobody did," Sheldon replied happily.
Gary showed them to their table and Penny looked at Sheldon, just a tad confused. Sheldon decided to fill her in instead of leave her hanging.
"Gary's from Texas. Well, obviously he's from Greece, but he grew up in Texas. My Meemaw taught him in high school. Whenever Meemaw visits, which is not very often anymore, this is where we go."
"Aww. I hope I get to meet Meemaw one day."
"She wants to meet you, believe me."
Penny smiled. "You tell her about me?"
"You do come up in conversation from time to time, yes."
She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, not bothering to wipe the lipstick off.
While Penny studied the menu, she said, "What do you want to watch when we get home? I was thinking about When Harry Met Sally. I'm in the mood for some vintage Meg Ryan."
Sheldon frowned. "I don't like that movie. And not just because it's a vapid romantic comedy with no integral value whatsoever."
Penny thought about it for a second and then burst into laughter. "Oh, my god, I forgot about that scene in the diner and Sally's days of the week underpants. That must have scarred you as a child."
"Of course I realized it was just a movie and that it didn't have anything to do with me. However, it gave the kids at school more fodder to tease and bully me with for years."
Penny felt bad for Little Sheldon. He must have had such a hard time in school, even though he only had to make it to fifth grade before going to college.
"Well, if it's any consolation, Harry was so wrong. It definitely is your strong suit."
Sheldon blushed and Penny giggled. She usually tried not to embarrass him like that, especially in public, but he was just so cute when he blushed.
After an appetizer of hummus (and Sheldon reciting the entire history of where hummus originated) and a shared order of kebobs and the best gyro Penny had ever eaten, Sheldon rose from the table and said, "I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere."
"I'm not going anywhere without you, babe," she said, smiling. It seemed like she had a permanent smile on her face these days. It was kind of nauseating.
Penny took a moment to glance at her surroundings while he was gone. It was mostly empty; there were only two or three couples still eating. The restaurant was straight up seventies style. Bad art hung on the walls. Red shag carpet gave everything just a bit more class. The food was good and the decor was bad. But it was a fun place and Sheldon seemed to be at home there.
And that's when she heard the piano.
And that's when she knew Sheldon was playing the piano.
And then he started singing.
"Don't go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore
I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are..."
Penny wiped some ridiculous tears off her face while she listened to this amazing man sing her this amazing song. She always knew he sang and played the piano, but his voice...his voice was so angelic. Maybe he somehow figured out she had a weakness for men who played the piano. It was their fingers, mostly. The fingers on the keys directly translated to fingers in other situations.
Such a public display of affection was so out of character for him. Was she responsible for this? Did he really care so much about her that he'd put himself out there like that?
"Get up there, lady," Gary said, his chubby cheeks showing off a smile. "That one's a keeper."
So she got up and walked across the room and sat with Sheldon at the piano bench while he sang her the rest of the song.
"Don't go trying some new fashion
Don't change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care
I don't want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.
I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.
I said I love you and that's forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are..."
Penny burst into tears. She couldn't help it. Who was this man sitting next to her? Oh, she was so fucked. There was no turning back now.
Sheldon put his arm around her and let her cry gross, phlegmy tears into his new suit. They sat there for a long time, just holding each other, not caring about anyone or anything in that Greek restaurant. Penny knew this was a defining day in her life; one that she would always name as one of the best days she'd ever experienced. How would anything ever surpass this? It would be impossible.
"Penny," he whispered. "I don't generally like to make a fool out of myself in public. But I wanted to do this because you deserve it. I don't think there's anyone else on this planet who would wait for me like you have. I don't know what I did to earn such devotion but I am eternally grateful."
Penny just nodded...she was completely incapable of forming sentences. He seemed to understand.
When they got back to her apartment, they made love gently and tenderly and Penny had never felt so alive.
And in her head and in her heart, Penny knew things couldn't go on forever like this. She was going to get disappointed. It wouldn't be his fault, either. It was inevitable. She just couldn't be this happy and not get her heart destroyed. And the thing was, she was waiting for it. From the beginning, she was waiting for it. Although Sheldon hadn't given her a reason to think that this couldn't last, she still knew the reality of the situation.
And that night, she knew she was right. Because after everything that occurred between them; after all the emotions exchanged and the vows and the promises of his words (well, Billy Joel's words), Sheldon still didn't spend the night.
The first sign of trouble presented itself pretty swiftly after Sheldon's Billy Joel singalong. Everyone was assembled at Leonard and Sheldon's apartment for pizza and beer. Howard and Bernadette sat on the floor, Amy sat as close as possible to Penny in the loveseat, and Leonard, Raj and Sheldon were on the couch.
It was getting easier and easier to be around Sheldon and not want to mess with his hair or kiss him on the cheek or anything else that would give them away when they were with everyone else. It didn't matter-Penny was 99% sure Leonard knew what was going on. He may have been a little socially inept but he wasn't stupid. Thankfully she was also pretty sure he was dating someone new, because he had that dumb look on his face that she knew fairly well. It was the "I had sex today" face. He was never very subtle about these things.
The topic of the night was how much Sheldon was changing. Penny listened, amused, as his friends lovingly teased him about his new wardrobe.
"I mean, look at you, man," Howard was saying. "You're wearing a black shirt! With no nerdy significance whatsoever! And jeans! That's like me going without a dickey or tight pants. How do you even feel like yourself?"
"Wolowitz, I am a scientist. I am allowed to observe a certain amount of change within myself for experimental purposes, am I not? You probably wouldn't understand without a doctorate."
Raj scoffed. "Dude, I have a doctorate. I don't understand. You're coming in late to work and leaving early. You aren't deriving pleasure from harassing me when we work together. What's gotten into you, Sheldon Cooper? We want answers!"
Penny avoided Sheldon's eyes. This would be a good time as any to tell everyone, but they were still waiting. Penny didn't even know what they were waiting for anymore, but she was still giving him time. The serenading and the sex and the meaningful glances made waiting a little easier.
"There is no ascertainable reason for the way I've been conducting myself as of late. I just realized that my past behavior was maybe a tad bit rigid and somewhat difficult for others to deal with sometimes. So I'm trying a different approach. It's no big deal."
Penny caught his eye and smiled. She wasn't trying to change him…she fell in love with the Sheldon who drove her crazy every single day and wore geeky shirts and Member's Only jackets. But she did have to admit, after taking him shopping and having him select these new clothes, he did look handsome. Hot, even.
Penny was still hungry after the pizza. It was all the sex, she thought. She was in a constant state of hunger because of the calories she was always burning with Sheldon. Smiling, she found a banana in the kitchen and unpeeled it carefully.
Of course she could always count on Howard to cheapen a moment.
"That's one lucky banana, Penny," Howard said from across the room. Bernadette groaned. "What are you going to do with it? Test your gag reflex?"
"Penny doesn't have a gag reflex," Sheldon and Leonard said at the same time.
Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, balls and shit and fuck.
Every single head in the room turned in one direction. Sheldon's direction. He looked like he just got caught stealing his mom's wallet from her purse. He didn't even offer any kind of excuse as to why he knew this about her. Penny's heart was breaking for him.
"Sheldon Cooper. You, sir, are one dirty dog!" Raj said, and laughed like a four year old.
"Shut up, Raj! You don't know anything. None of you know anything!" Penny said, also sounding like a four year old. They were ruining everything.
"Oh, I think we know plenty," Howard said happily. "I think Sheldon's been holding out on us, and I think we know the reason for all the changes. Damn, Penny. Now I'm the only one left in the group that you didn't-"
"Howard, if you finish that sentence, I'm going to Junior Rodeo your tiny balls and put them in the blender."
"And I'm going to help her," Bernadette said, looking annoyed and disgusted with her fiance.
Leonard, who had just been staring blankly at Sheldon since this whole disaster began, said, "Are you serious? I thought you two were seeing each other but I didn't know it was sexual!"
Once again, every head turned towards Sheldon. Maybe it was just occurring to them that Sheldon, who didn't have a deal, now most certainly had a deal. And it involved Penny 100%.
Penny was terrified to look at Amy. When she finally did, she wasn't disappointed-Amy looked devastated.
"I don't know how you made it happen, Penny," Amy said sadly. "I tried my hardest and it wasn't good enough. I guess if I looked like you, it would have been different."
Penny sighed. "It wasn't about looks, Amy. And it's not all about the sex. I'd explain it but I know that won't help. I'm sorry." Actually it was a little about the sex. But she didn't need to know that.
Amy shrugged. This was not going to be an easy situation to fix.
Sheldon watched everyone in his peer group implode and had no idea what to say. Penny knew he was freaking out. Sheldon never wanted this. He didn't want to hurt anyone. Penny wasn't sure what he ever wanted from her, but this wasn't it. She wasn't surprised when he quietly stood up and went into his bedroom and closed the door.
Penny got up and looked at Raj and Howard, who had no idea what was about to be unleashed.
"Okay, assholes, you listen to me. Sheldon is a good man with an amazing heart. None of you know anything about anything, and you should be ashamed of yourselves for making such shitty judgments. It isn't about sex. It's not cheap and it's not crass and he makes me happy and can't you see how he's changed? He's really putting himself on the line for me and all you can do is make fun of him for it. Ughhh!"
There was so much more she wanted to say, but the only person she cared about at the moment was in his bedroom, probably curled in the fetal position on his bed.
She knocked on his door but walked in without waiting for a reply. There he was. Fetal position. Bed.
"Sheldon...talk to me."
"Penny, there are not many occasions lately where I don't feel like talking to you, but right now, I find myself in desperate need of some alone time."
"Okay, you know what? I get that. I do. But please don't make this my fault. It wasn't your fault, either. You said what you said automatically and didn't expect it to cause such an uproar. But you're acting like I've betrayed you in some way and I don't appreciate it."
He looked up at her and blinked. She only saw coldness in his eyes. Whatever love he had for her, it was not there at the moment. And she had no idea what to do with that.
"I know it's not your fault, Penny. Please, can we talk about this in the morning?"
Penny sighed. He was shutting down on her. This wasn't good. Not good at all. But he was not the type who could be talked out of something when he wasn't in the mood to be talked out of it.
"Okay. Okay, I'll leave. But I want you to know that I love you. I love so many things about you. And no matter what those assholes out there think or say or do, that is not going to change. You're a strong and courageous man and I'm proud of you and I love you. Okay...yeah. See you later."
She hadn't said the "L" word since the first time they were together and now here she was blurting it out three times in a row. Penny knew Sheldon wasn't there yet and she didn't expect him to say it back. But it still hurt when he didn't.
Back in her apartment, she sat on her sofa in the dark, wondering what she was going to do now. Before she had a chance to get too deep into her thought process/pity party, there was a knock on her door. It was only one knock, and Penny knew it wasn't Sheldon.
"Come in, Leonard, the door is open."
A dejected looking Leonard walked in and sat down next to her on the couch. It was still dark, and Penny was grateful she didn't have to look him in the eye. She wasn't blind-she knew how Leonard felt about her since the first day she moved in. And that scene at his apartment must have really super sucked for him. Even if he did have a new girl in his life.
"Leonard...I know this is hard for you and I apologize that you had to find out this way."
"I won't say it's easy," he said sadly. "It's not that I haven't moved on or that I want to get back together...I really like Veronica and I think we have a future together. But you and I, we were together for a long time and we broke up because you...well, let's call a spade a spade. You didn't love me. And now here's Sheldon in all his weirdness and his awkwardness and you love him and it just doesn't make sense."
Penny just nodded. Everything he said was true...no use in trying to defend herself.
"So yeah, it does sting a bit. But on the other hand, you don't see what I see. When it's just the two of us in the apartment, going about our daily lives. He's a changed man, Penny. He hums. When he's making breakfast, when he's on his computer, when we're playing Halo. I don't know what that's about, but he does it with a smile on his face. You know, he'll be in the middle of writing furiously on his white board and then he'll just stop and look out into space with this weird grin on his face. You've transformed him. For someone who I was sure didn't possess genitalia, using it is sure making him a better person."
Penny grinned. "It's all him, Leonard. He's the one pulling the strings here. I'm just standing back and letting him go at his own pace."
"No, no, no. It's you. He had feelings for Amy and it never made him this happy. It's you. And you know what? I think I'm happy for you guys. I was afraid that once Sheldon achieved his career goals, he'd look around and have nobody special to share it with. So I'm glad he's finally letting someone else in. He deserves it."
Penny exhaled. "I love him, Leonard. I friggin' love the whackjob."
"I know you do. That was clear tonight. And for the record, Raj and Howard weren't trying to be disrespectful. They just had no idea that it was so serious between you two."
"Argghh. We really freaked him out tonight, Leonard. He's like a little baby deer-don't turn the headlights on or he'll run away. And honestly, I'm just waiting. Waiting for it all to come crashing down. Everything was going so well and now there's a tiny bump in the road and he wants to give up."
"He doesn't want to give up," Leonard said. "He just wasn't ready for us to know yet. He's mad at himself for saying what he said and outing the two of you. And maybe he's a little mad at you for starting this whole thing in the first place. I know, that makes no sense. But he's new to this, Penny. Give him time."
"Oh, time. Right." Penny was getting pretty fucking tired of time.
"Give him a few days and he'll be as good as new. This is just how he reacts to failure. And yes, he sees this as a failure. Let me give you a tip-don't try to get inside his head. It's not a pretty place."
She hugged Leonard in the dark. "Thank you. I'll give him time. But sooner or later, time is going to run out."
"Make it later, Penny. He loves you. In his own way, he loves you. Let that be enough for now."
She sighed. He gave her shoulder a pat and then got up to leave. His hand was on the doorknob and Penny was about to get up and go to bed when he said softly, "Why?"
"Why? Why what?" But she knew exactly what he was asking.
"Why do you love him? Why him and not me?"
She sighed. Really, Leonard?
"You really want an answer to that?"
"No. I don't. But tell me anyway."
"Come back over here," she said. He stumbled over to the seat next to her. "Let's see, where do I start? The way his mind works. I mean...he's a kook, we all know that. But there's logic to his kookiness. And an innocence. And I guess that innocence really caught me by surprise. Intrigued me. Fascinated me. And before long, every interaction we had was a learning experience. Every time he managed to insult and praise me in the same sentence was so frustrating and yet so interesting. And I just started falling in love with him. Remember when I gave him the Spock napkin and the only way he felt he could thank me properly was with a hug? He knew a hug would mean a lot to me, even if it made him uncomfortable. It's stuff like that. And the way he looks at me. The way he touches me. The way he trusts me-the way he's always trusted me. Even though we're total opposites, he came to respect and appreciate me in a way that I could feel all the way down to my bones. Leonard, I know you have no idea what I mean, but you asked. And that's all I can give you."
Leonard chuckled. "I'm sorry I asked. But thank you for telling me. I actually understand what you're saying. Some of those things are why he's my best friend. Why I continue to put up with him and drive him to the comic store and abide by the roommate agreement. He always has my back, even when I'm wrong. He's always there for me when I need him. Sheldon is a good man. And I guess...if you had to be with someone other than me, he's the best choice."
Penny smiled, somewhat sadly. "I think so, too." She gave Leonard a kiss on the cheek and he left, tail between his legs.
Before Penny went to bed, she quickly checked her email. To her surprise, she had one from Amy.
Dearest Bestie - I'm not mad at you. I'm not disappointed. I'm not sad. You know why? Because you stood up for Sheldon. You love him more than I ever did or could. You are the best thing that's ever happened to him and I know he knows that, but it's hard for him to accept. I love you, and I hope you guys can make this work.
P.S. - You know you're going to have to tell me about the sex someday, right? In detail. He's the luckiest guy on earth because he gets to touch that pristine milky flesh of yours.
Penny chuckled, only slightly creeped out by her enthusiastic BFF, and got into bed. Before she drifted off to sleep, her phone buzzed. Sheldon.
I'm sorry. I love so many things about you, too. Thank you for not giving up on me. We'll talk tomorrow.
It was simple, but it was all she needed to finally exhale and go to sleep.
In many ways, the group finding out about them only strengthened Penny and Sheldon's relationship. They didn't have to sneak around anymore, for starters. Sheldon could actually hold her hand in the comfort of his own home now. Everyone was a little freaked out by this affectionate side of the man they thought they knew so well, but they all agreed it was a change for the better. Sometimes she and Sheldon would even double date with Leonard and Veronica, a sweet, funny girl he met on a Game of Thrones forum online. Although Penny liked to keep that to a minimum; the chemistry and the history and the vibes between her and Sheldon and Leonard were a little too weird to endure more than once or twice a month.
However, there was a subtle change between the two of them ever since they were outed that night. If anyone asked her, Penny wouldn't be able to tell them why it was different or what was different or why she felt like it was different. She felt like some of the sweetness was gone. What was once exciting and new and challenging was starting to become routine. It was like...Sheldon stopped trying so hard. Penny wasn't sure if she should try extra hard, or give him some space. She decided to bring it up with Bernadette and Amy at the next girl's night out.
After a Long Island Iced Tea or two, Penny told her friends, "I just don't know what to do, you guys. Loving him is so fucking exhausting. He's impossible to figure out sometimes, you know? It's like, there are times when I know we're on the same page. The sex is amazing, he's extra adorable, he tells me every day how he feels about me. And then a week goes by where I barely hear from him at all. No sex. No texts. He's so wrapped up in his own world that I'm not sure he even remembers I exist."
"He's a scientist, Penny," Amy said. "A very good one. Someday he very well may get a Nobel Prize. I know how you feel and those feelings are valid, but to Sheldon, a relationship is not his first priority. Believe me, I know, I was there."
Penny gave her a sad smile.
"First of all, he will get that Nobel Prize. I believe in him 100%. And second, I know what you're saying, Amy. He's not like the rest of us. He's brilliant. I love watching him work. Seriously, when he gets going on the whiteboard and he's in a zone and he and Leonard are deep in discussion about something I'll never understand, I just sit back and get lost in watching it unfold. It's just...I wish he was a little better at prioritizing. Is that too much to ask?"
Bernadette raised an eyebrow and gave her a strange look.
"What? What did I do to deserve that?"
Bernadette sighed. "Someone needs to be the one to tell you and I know it's not going to be Amy. Penny, well, you're being kind of pathetic. You used to be funny and sarcastic and lively and now all you can talk about is Sheldon. What Sheldon's doing. What Sheldon's not doing. How he's ignoring you this week. We all know what it's like to be in love. Hell, I'm getting married in three months! I know how it is. You start thinking love can save you from yourself and everything is beautiful and amazing and then he starts texting you less and less, the three hour sessions of crazy, passionate sex suddenly turns into 30 minutes when he can fit it into his schedule, and before you know it, you're questioning every single thing you did wrong. And guess what? The only thing you did wrong was surrender yourself to a man that may or may not be the one."
Penny just stared at Bernadette. Amy was able to actually form words. "Bernie, are you talking about Howard?"
"Of course not. The guy I dated before Howie. Why do you think I'm marrying him? I'm not saying I'm settling, girls. But I know at the end of the day, I'm going home to someone who loves me. Yes, he's a twisted pervert nutbag, but I know he'd never cheat and he'd do anything for me. I'm just saying, before you put all your eggs in one basket, make sure he's going to be worth it. Penny, we know you love the guy, but if you're going to make it work with him, you have to find a way to deal with his 'Beautiful Mind' personality. Focus on bettering your life instead of what he is or isn't doing. Have you even wrote a word in your novel since you two started dating?"
Penny shook her head. "I did for a while...but then I lost interest. I don't know why..."
"And you stopped going to the gym, and you spend all your free time at Sheldon's apartment watching him further his own life while abandoning your own, right? Get it together, Penny. I'm not trying to be cruel, please know that. But someone needed to say it."
Before Penny could even bother defending herself, Bernadette added, "I also want to point out that while we can all see the idiot is crazy about you, he's not exactly putting himself out there for you. Leonard has known about you guys for a month now, but have you spent the night with Sheldon, I don't know, ever? Has he said that he loves you yet?"
"No. On both accounts. But he's already taken so many risks to be with me, Bernie. I owe it to him to be patient."
Amy stared at her best friend, and not in adoring way Penny was used to.
"I'm going to agree with Bernadette here, bestie. Just because he put himself out there to be with you doesn't mean he has a lifetime pass to do whatever he wants while you sit there and watch. You're romanticizing this relationship, Penny. You're not Ross and Rachel. And even if you were, you know what happened at the end of the show. Rachel got off the plane. She set her own dreams aside just so she could be with a man who drove her crazy. She should have gone to Paris. Don't be Rachel, Penny. Be more like Phoebe. Phoebe held out and got the man she deserved."
Now this was more like it. All she needed was someone to break down her life Friends-style to finally drive home the point Bernadette was trying to make.
"Okay, okay, I get what you guys are saying, I do. But I don't want to play games. I'm bad at games. And that would never work with Sheldon, anyway."
"We're not suggesting that," Berndatte said patiently. She took Penny's hand. "We're saying you need to focus on you right now. Sheldon knows you love him and he knows you'll be there no matter what he does. So when he needs you, he'll find you. Meanwhile, write. Work out. Throw yourself into your work. Get a promotion. Do what you need to do and he'll find you."
Penny sighed. "I know, I know. This all makes sense. I hate it, though. He is sort of like my Ross, isn't he? My scientist. I wish he had a little bit more of Chandler's sarcasm and Joey's sweetness, though."
"We all want someone like that," Amy said. "He doesn't exist. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, will you get to the dirty stuff?"
"What dirty stuff?"
"Come on, Penny, this is me and Bernadette you're talking to here. Don't be coy. You and Sheldon fornicate like bunnies, we know you do. Give us the details!"
Penny closed her eyes for a second and thought about making love to Sheldon. Most of the time he was gentle and soothing and kissed her all over and made it last. He'd pay so much attention to giving her pleasure; when she had an orgasm, it gave him such a proud feeling of accomplishment. And other times, when he'd had a bad day or they were arguing about something stupid or he'd think about Firefly being canceled again, he'd be a little more rough. Of course he'd ask if it was okay before he did anything like that, but it didn't ruin the moment. For some reason, hearing his voice ask her if it was okay to pull her hair while he was in her from behind turned her on almost more than the actual act. There was no doubt about it-Sheldon was an amazing lover.
"Oh, you guys, I can't betray him like that. He'd never forgive me if he thought I was talking about bedroom stuff behind his back."
"Come on...a hint? Give us something."
Penny wanted to tell them everything, but somehow managed to find some restraint and keep that information to herself. Penny thought about how maybe Sheldon had changed, but she had changed just as much. Old Penny would have told her friends everything about the sex, from size of his penis to the frequency and length of the act. This Penny, the one who respects Sheldon's innocence and purity (well, former innocence and purity), didn't want to spill the beans. She was growing up.
"I can't do it, Amy. You know just as well as I do how he'd feel about that. But tell us about you! You haven't mentioned Stuart since you two started dating."
Amy sighed and took a long sip of her fruity alcoholic beverage.
"Based on the evidence I've collected on the subject of sexuality, both through unadvised intercourse with Stuart and my increasing feelings of lust for you-erm, for the same sex, I've come to the conclusion that I am, in fact, a lesbian. I have yet to find a suitable mate in this new arena that I will be partaking in, but I am excited about the new prospects."
Penny shrieked. "That is so exciting, Amy! I always thought that might be an option for you, but I wasn't sure if you knew it was an option for you. I'm so glad you found something that makes you happy!"
Amy smiled. "Yes, me, too. I knew you'd be excited for me, bestie. I just hoped it would be in a different way."
Penny had no idea what that was supposed to mean-well, she did, but she didn't want to think about it too long-so she just hugged her sweet friend and braced herself for the proverbial shoe to drop in her own relationship.
Penny kept this going for almost two weeks. She hated it. She hated everything about it. All she wanted to do was pledge her undying love to him and then spend all night in bed, only stopping to breathe and perhaps eat. But Bernadette was right-this relationship had become the center of her life and it wasn't healthy. Not to mention fair. She had a pretty good hunch that this relationship wasn't on the forefront of Sheldon's big giant brain. It was like...he got to think about other things while she only thought about him. Sometimes it felt like she was trapped in an episode of My So-Called Life.
It had been a long day of work at both her jobs and she was so very tired. She put on a Farscape episode-it was a show Sheldon mentioned once in passing and she found that she really enjoyed it-and opened her computer. The plan was to write at least a chapter before she went to bed, but writer's block was creeping up on her and pure exhaustion was setting in.
Knock knock knock. "Penny." Knock knock knock. "Penny." "Knock knock knock. "Penny."
Penny smiled happily. He hadn't knocked on her door in a while now. She quickly turned off Farscape and put it on E!, which was playing a Sex and the City rerun. This was all part of the plan. Not that there was a plan.
"Hey, Sheldon. What's up?" God, he looked good.
"I'd like to come in, if you don't mind."
She shrugged. "Sure." Of course she wanted him to come in. She wanted it every night. Damn these games.
Sheldon came in and started to say something but instead stared at her for a good 15 seconds. She was wearing a white tank top and tiny white panties. She didn't blame him for staring-she looked good. The work-outs were doing wonders for her body.
"Were you going to say something?"
He finally snapped out of his temporary coma and said, "Oh, yes. I've been texting you all day, have you misplaced your phone?"
"Oh, well, it's in my purse and I turned the ringer off at work and forgot about it."
She sat back down on the couch and he followed and sat obediently next to her.
"Why? Did you want to talk to me?"
"Of course I wanted to talk to you. That's why I called."
"Oh, well, what about? I'm sorry, I've been really busy lately. You know, two jobs and all."
"Well, I didn't have anything specific to say, actually. If you must know, I merely wanted to hear your voice. The last couple of days at work have been unusually stressful and I found myself wanting your companionship more than ever. Which stressed me out even more, because usually when I get stressed out, I want to be alone. And that brings me back to what I told you the first night I was here, which is, being with you is like breathing. And the last couple of days, I have found it hard to breathe."
Penny must have had the entire range of the human emotional experience during this speech of Sheldon's. Anger, sadness, happiness, guilt...it was all there. She hated playing games more than anything, but if it meant Sheldon coming over and telling her things she'd always wanted to hear, well, maybe it was just a tiny bit worth it.
"Oh, come here, honey," she said, and he scooted over and let her hold him and stroke his hair. "I'm sorry. I didn't know you were having a rough couple of days."
"I just couldn't understand why you didn't answer the phone or come over or text or email...you're usually so adept at knowing when I need you, even when I don't know that I need you. You've always been that way, even before we were...together."
"Sheldon, I want to be here for you when you need me, but I can't be available all the time. I have to live my life, too. If you want a relationship with me, or with anyone, really, you have to know that there's going to be bumps in the road and sometimes you have to fix it yourself. I can't read your mind...if you need me, come over here and ask for me."
"Isn't that what I'm doing?" He said in almost a whisper. She sighed and felt like horse crap.
"Yes, sweetie. Do you want to tell me what's been going on at work?"
"No...not right now."
"What do you want right now?"
He lightly traced her naked thigh with his fingertips, which sent a shock of lust straight into her loins.
"Come on, Sheldon. Tell me what you want."
"I just-I want you. I want what we had. Have. Penny, don't make me spell it out for you. Don't pretend you don't know what I want. I can't hide from you, I can't...I can't get away with that with you."
"Oh, honey...I missed you so much." She kissed him softly. They hadn't kissed in over two weeks and she missed the fuck out of him. And he looked so sad and vulnerable and she vowed to never play any games like that again. It wasn't fair. He had no idea what she was doing. And if she explained it to him, he still wouldn't get it. What was the point of playing a game when only one person knew the rules?
Sheldon kissed her back more aggressively than she was used to. It seemed like he was in one of those rougher kind of moods and she played along. While Penny loved taking it nice and slow, she also got off on when he took control.
"I need you," he whispered while he kissed her. "Do you need me? Tell me you need me."
"I need you. I need you to touch me."
"Good. Come here." She straddled him on the couch, just like she did the first night. He took a long time to touch her and taste her and it made her feel more alive than ever and she loved him and she missed him and where was this going? She was going to get her heart broken, wasn't she? This was not going to end well, was it? The usual insecurities plagued her even though he was solely focused on her and her pleasure at that moment. But then he pulled her panties aside and placed himself inside of her and they rocked back and forth together and she forgot every single word she'd been thinking. Hell, she forgot that words even existed.
When it was over and they were in a satiated haze of lust and whatever the hell else it was that settled over them like a cloud, Penny said, "It's getting late, you should go to bed, sweetie. If you're having a rough time at work, you won't want to be late in the morning."
"Penny? Can I stay here tonight?"
"That would make me very happy," she said, almost near tears.
"I think it would make me happy, too." And he headed toward her bedroom and got into bed. He didn't even take a shower first. Penny joined him, and they slept together for the first time. And everything was good, and everything was right, and it was all she wanted.
Penny hated working at the Cheesecake Factory. She hated it so much. There was nothing about it she even remotely liked anymore. Nothing. At all. The exception was Tuesday nights. On Tuesday nights, the boys came in and made her night suck a little less.
"Penny, your boys are here," her boss, Martha, said. "King Dork is looking particularly dashing this evening."
"Thanks, Martha," Penny said, grinning. Martha had classified Sheldon as King Dork years ago. Well, she wasn't wrong. It was just that now, he was Penny's King Dork.
As usual, her heart started beating faster as soon as she turned the corner and saw Sheldon in his spot. Their eyes met and he gave her a butterflies-inducing smile. It was his secret smile. The smile he only gave her when no one else was looking. She'd never seen it before they started this game they were playing.
Actually, it wasn't a game anymore. It wasn't an experiment. It wasn't a "thing". Sheldon and Penny were officially dating. He was her boyfriend. She was his girlfriend. They'd go on dates and have sex and bicker back and forth like old married couples. Penny would be the first to admit that it still wasn't perfect. He was getting better about this relationship thing, but the basic concepts of romance still eluded him. She was patient because he was trying so hard. And she was trying, too. She was learning how to tell when he needed his space and when he craved her comfort. Penny was trying not to upset his normal routine too much, and in return, he tried to alter his routine the best he could without freaking out. They were figuring this out, the two of them.
"Hey, boys. What's the topic tonight?"
Raj took a swig of beer and slurred, "We're discussing our favorite John Connor. Mine is obviously Christian Bale. How can you possibly go wrong with Christian Bale? He was such a bad ass. Plus, he was so dreamy."
Howard groaned. "Christian Bale reminds me too much of Kermit the Frog. Obviously the best was Thomas Dekker from the TV show."
"You just say that because Summer Glau was on the show," Leonard said. "Which is pathetic considering how badly she shot you down."
"Oh, like you did any better?" Howard snapped. Leonard scoffed, but looked properly shamed.
"What do you think, Penny?"
"I have a soft spot for Edward Furlong. I had the biggest crush on him! He was so cute, and so rebellious. Plus his friend had the most epic of mullets."
"Penny is right, of course," Sheldon chimed in. "Edward Furlong is the best John Connor. He forged a friendship with the terminator and learned some life-long lessons. Although, let's face it, any John Connor is better than Nick Stahl's portrayal."
All the boys chuckled and nodded in agreement.
"But Nick Stahl had Claire Danes as his Kate Brewster. And Claire Danes was Angela Chase, and Angela Chase loved her some Jordan Catalano. And Jordan Catalano is every girl's dream boyfriend."
This earned her four blank stares. Well, she didn't expect them to understand about Jordan Catalano. He wasn't meant to be understood.
"Hey, Penny, Sheldon is like your Jordan Catalano, right? I mean, they're almost identical twins."
"Shut up, Howard. What can I get for you guys tonight?"
As they ordered, Penny tried to focus on writing it down correctly instead of Sheldon's hand that was slowly inching up her skirt to the back of her thigh. He was so naughty sometimes. It was a good thing she memorized all their orders years ago; his warm hand on her thigh was causing all her concentration to disappear.
Before Penny left to pay attention to the other customers she'd been neglecting, she bent down and whispered in Sheldon's ear, "When I get home tonight, I'll be the Kate Brewster to your John Connor. We're going to take Skynet down together."
And then she walked away and knew he was watching her, and he'd be waiting for her when she got home, and maybe he'd spend the night, and definitely he would get her naked, and everything was fine and she was happy.
But she still really, really hated the Cheesecake Factory.
The boys were long gone and the only thing getting Penny through the next couple of hours was daydreaming about going home and participating in some heavy terminatrix foreplay. She brought a cheeseburger to one of her regulars, Wendy Morrison, a respected player in the Hollywood scene.
"Hey, Penny. How you doin'? Having fun tonight?"
"Oh, about as much fun as milking a cow in the middle of a hail storm."
Wendy looked at her sideways.
"I'm from Nebraska, we milked cows...in hail storms."
"Oh, honey, I'm from Texas. I've done a lot worse to cows in a lot worse weather."
They both chuckled, recognizing they were kindred spirits in the art of the dairy farm. Penny always liked Wendy; most of the time she came in alone and had her cheeseburger and worked on her crossword puzzle. Penny figured it was probably the only peace and quiet she could get during the week.
"Hmmph, this crossword is a pain in the ass today. You wouldn't happen to know what element is number 21 on the periodic table, would you?"
"Scandium," Penny said without hesitation. "The symbol is SC."
"Holy shit, Penny! How do you have that rolling around in your brain?"
"My boyfriend has a periodic table shower curtain. I've pretty much memorized the entire thing."
"Oh, naughty. I like it. Well, how about this one-Mr. Big's real name. I don't know much about TV shows, just movies."
"Oh, well, that's John Preston." Penny didn't know much, but she made it her business to know everything there was to know about Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriend. And in the movies, husband.
"The bass player for Guns N' Roses for the past 14 years."
"Tommy Stinson. Legend. He used to be in the Replacements."
"One last one-played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Penny snorted. "Wil Wheaton!" She wanted to tell Wendy about Sheldon's past with Wil, and the fact that he was almost solely responsible for her decision to break up with Leonard once upon a time. But she wouldn't have believed it. Nobody would.
"Oh, and that's Wil with one L." She couldn't help but think of Angela Chase and Jordan's misspelled love notes.
"That is amazing, Penny. You are so smart, what the hell are you doing still working at this place?"
Penny looked around to see if any of her bosses were listening. They weren't.
"Um, because my agent sucks and the only gigs I've gotten in the past couple of years were a hemorrhoid commercial and my right elbow in a car commercial?"
Wendy looked at her in surprise. "You're an actress? I didn't know that. I mean, I thought you might have been when I first came in here but you never asked me to look through your portfolio or if I knew so-and-so who could get you into the business, so I just assumed..."
"I would never do that! I'm desperate but not that desperate."
"I wish I knew that before, there's been plenty of things I could have cast you for, you're absolutely perfect for so many parts. And you're so smart, too. So many girls we see on a daily basis are dumb as bricks."
Penny couldn't help it-she grinned like an idiot. "That's the best news I've heard all week. Maybe all year. Thank you for thinking of me."
"You know, in fact, a friend of mine is casting for Game of Thrones right now. I'd really like you to audition. Do you think you'd be able to do that?"
"Great. Smile, Penny. I think amazing things are about to happen for you."
Wendy gave Penny her details and told Penny to give the casting director a call. Penny squealed with joy when she got back to the kitchen. This earned her plenty of stares but she couldn't care less. Things were all starting to come together now.
While she drove home, she wondered, was it possible that her entire life just changed because of Sheldon's shower curtain? And was she really going to be on one of his and the boys' current favorite TV shows? Penny had always been a big believer in fate, and the fact that this all happened so fast only cemented it. The day she moved into the apartment and met the nice boys across the hall, she knew her life had changed forever. Fate brought her Leonard, and what she took from that relationship brought her to Sheldon, and now fate had brought her this new job. She owed fate big time.
Penny was at her grant-writing job when she got the call. She was tempted to walk out as soon as she hung up the phone, but she actually kind of liked the place and didn't want to burn bridges. She was about to text Sheldon about the good news when there was a knock on her office door. She was expecting her boss to wander in but was completely delighted when she saw Sheldon's adorable little head poking through her door. He'd never visited her here before, even though his office was basically right across the street.
She jumped up and gave him an excited hug.
"What's up, Moonpie? To what do I owe the honor of your presence in my humble office?"
"Well, I suppose it is quite humble. My office is basically double the size of yours. Anyway, I am here because I wanted to secure your company this evening. I have exciting news that I'd like to share with you."
"Really? Well, tell me now!"
"No, no, let's make it official this evening. I'll even let you pick the restaurant. But please do wear that red dress of yours, wherever we happen to go. You know how I feel about that dress."
Wow, this must be some exciting news, Penny thought. A little tiny part of her hoped and wondered...but then she shook it off and silently told herself to get it together.
"Actually, I have some very exciting news myself. Why don't we just stay in? I'll pick up some spaghetti on the way home. And I already have the hot dogs. Then we can celebrate in private. In our own way." She winked. He turned bright red. It was still so much fun to mess with him.
"I suppose this is an acceptable plan. But only if you still wear the red dress." He leaned down and gave her an interesting and lingering kiss. "I'll be happily anticipating your exciting news." And then he was gone just as quickly as he'd arrived. And the grant she was writing about getting a new laser for the physics department (Leonard would be happy) was now rendered the most boring, arduous task in all existence. Sighing, she sat back down, her hands on the keyboard and her head in the clouds.
A few hours later, Penny was drinking a glass of wine (okay, a bottle) and Sheldon was drinking tea at a candlelit table in her kitchen. Before they shared their news, Penny couldn't help but take a good look at Sheldon through the warm glow of the candle. Ugh, he was so sexy. His hair was getting longer and lately he'd gained a bit of weight for no particular reason, but it looked so good on him. She always figured he could use a little more meat on his bones.
"So what's your good news, sweetie?"
"Well, didn't you mention you had some good news of your own? I think it's customary for the female to tell her news first, isn't it?"
"Um, I don't think there's any kind of rule for that, actually. You go ahead. I can't wait to hear what it is." And she also knew what happened when he was solely focused on his own achievements, thanks to Amy's spat with him that she'd witnessed firsthand. And unfortunately, Penny didn't have the right head shape for a tiara. She knew, she tried. A few times.
"Well, I'm involved in a new project at work. We've been given a whole host of new equipment in order to study the recent discoveries in particle physics."
"You're talking about the Higgs particle, right?"
"Yes, that's right, very good, Penny. We've gotten a rather substantial grant from a distinguished board of physicists. We'll finally be able to do the research the Higgs particle deserves. I don't think I have to tell you what this means, Penny."
Penny knew what it meant. It meant amazing things for Sheldon and his career, but for a selfish second, all she could think about was how empty her bed was about to be. She felt like a terrible girlfriend but...they were just getting into the rhythm of their relationship! He'd come so far! What was going to happen now?
"That is so amazing, sweetie. And I don't think you do need to tell me what that means; you've told me so much about it over the years. So let me guess-you're going to Switzerland to see the Large Hadron Collider thingy, you're going to get your Nobel Prize, and also, you hate to do this to me, but we're probably not going to spend much time together until your work is done."
Sheldon looked at her with a mixture of respect, annoyance and pride. It was a weird look.
"Well, not necessarily in that order, but I do anticipate those things occurring in the future. It's all very exciting, I've been waiting for a chance like this basically my whole career. Big things are about to happen for me. For us. Penny, you know how I feel about you. At this point in our relationship, I've gathered enough data to recognize the fact that you are aware of the intensity of my feelings without having to vocalize them on a frequent basis. So I know you're not going to take it personally when I need to spend more time in the lab or at home with my work instead of spending time with you. I hope this is agreeable to you."
Penny was able to follow most of what he just said. Her confusion must have registered on her face, because Sheldon said, "What I'm trying to say is that while you've become a vital part of my life, my career has always been my most important goal."
"Sheldon, I would never get in the way of you trying to achieve your goals and dreams. I'm so excited for you! Seriously, I am. You deserve this opportunity. I know this means I'll see you less, and that's okay. But I do want to experience this with you. Being in a relationship means sharing these things, right?"
What was she saying, he had no idea what being in a relationship was like. What she really needed was a subtle way of saying, "That's cool and all, but if you expect me to wait around here while you ignore me for a year then you're batshit crazy."
"I am not planning to abandon this relationship and I fully intend to include you in this project. Actually, I'd like your help with it. There are minor things that you're quite capable of assisting me with."
Penny smiled. "That's so sweet of you."
"No, actually. I actually find it endearing that you want me to assist you in this project. It would make me happy to work with you. Endlessly happy."
"Well, that's good news. Speaking of which, you said you had something to tell me as well."
"Oh, right! Well, I went to the audition yesterday, right? And Wendy herself called me today to say I got the part! Starting in a few weeks, I'm going to be a regular character on Game of Thrones. I won't be on every episode but I have my own story arc and everything. Oh, and the best part? I can quit the Cheesecake Factory!"
She expected Sheldon to give her his best koala face, but to her surprise, he gave her a genuine warm smile.
"That is amazing news, Penny. I am so proud of you. I knew you'd get it. In fact, I have a present for you." He reached under the table and retrieved a wrapped package. "I even wrapped it myself."
"You did? Wow, Sheldon. You shouldn't have." She unwrapped the present; a hardback copy of Game of Thrones, the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series. On a whim, she opened it to the first page. Sheldon had written, "I know you're going to get the part. They're lucky to have you and so am I. Love, Sheldon."
She grinned. He hadn't yet said he loved her, and she wasn't dwelling on that small little fact. After all, she hadn't been able to say it to Leonard, although her reason was simple-she never loved Leonard. But she knew that wasn't exactly the case here.
"Thank you, Sheldon. This means a lot to me. And this job means I'll be pretty busy for a while, too. What I'd love is if we could just find each other in the middle. When you need me, I'll be here. And when I need you...I hope you'll be there. And then when this is over, I'll be a star and you'll have a Nobel Prize and we'll still get in that bed over there and nothing will have changed."
"I think I can arrange that," he said thoughtfully. "I believe my project will be more inspired if we continue engaging in coitus through the duration."
Penny frowned. A younger, pre-Sheldon Penny would have accused him of thinking this relationship was purely sexual and why didn't he love her enough to just say it, and, oh, where were they going, anyway? She wasn't getting any younger. But this Penny; the one who'd spent the last couple of months in a relationship with one of the brightest minds on the planet, knew she didn't need such assurances. Sheldon cared about her. He wasn't going to leave her behind; he needed her. And she needed him. So it was time to stop with the insecure bullshit and finally have trust and faith in her adorable boyfriend. No, he hadn't yet said that he loved her. But he had just never said those words to anyone but his family. And at this point in their relationship, Penny was perfectly fine with that. The way he felt about her was in his eyes, his hands, his voice, his heart. That was enough. For now.
After dinner, the red dress paid for itself while Sheldon explored over it, under it, in between it...he really liked the dress. And he showed her how much he liked it. He'd gotten so good and so confident with sex and it was so exhilarating to see him let go in a way he'd never thought to before. Penny loved being in the moment with him. And she loved being the one who got to share these new experiences with him. No matter what happened, they'd always have that.
To her delight, he fell asleep with his arms wrapped around her, their warmth merging together, their souls, for now, as one. Penny knew they were about to face challenges. This wasn't going to be easy. He was going to get wrapped up in his work and she would get annoyed and frustrated. She wouldn't be there to serve him his Tuesday cheeseburger and he'd be insufferable. But they could get through this, couldn't they? It was time to put the relationship to the test. Shit or get off the pot, Penny's father always used to say. Time. All they needed was time.
Penny sat under a dryer, waiting patiently to be transformed into her Game of Thrones character Melisandre of Asshai. The very essence of Melisandre was red. She embodied red. So dying Penny's hair red was essential. She asked the hair and make-up people if she could just wear a wig, but they said something about making it as authentic as possible. Well, she could rock red hair, no problem whatsoever. And from the wardrobe fittings she had earlier in the week, Penny was ecstatic that she'd been working out so hardcore lately. The outfits did not leave much up to the imagination.
Her first script had been sent by messenger to her apartment a few days before and the boys helped her read lines and understand what the hell was going on. They were all so excited for her, not only because it was a show they all liked and enjoyed, but, as they spent so much time assuring her, this was her big break. Penny was flattered they thought so, but she was only cast for two episodes so far and she had no idea if they'd ever want her back. Howard offered to prepare her for a kissing scene and was very nearly punched in the head by an angry Sheldon. It was somewhat dramatic at the time, but later. Penny couldn't help but smile about the near fist-fight. Sheldon had been jealous. Even though she was fighting through her insecurities, it was still nice to know that he cared that much.
Penny was reading her Song of Ice and Fire book under the dryer when her phone vibrated. It was a text from her Moonpie.
Are you working this afternoon?
Nope, after I get my hair done I'm off for a few days. What's up?
I've been told by interested parties that we should go to the park, bring a blanket and food and sit on the ground and eat it...I find this to be highly unsanitary and somewhat ridiculous, but apparently it is a non-optional social convention.
Penny silently thanked Mary Cooper for giving her sweet son dating tips.
It's called a picnic, sweetie. And I'd love to.
Awesome. Isn't that what you say when you're looking forward to something? Anyway, see you later.
She giggled. He was always making her giggle.
"Hey, Penny. You look happy today. But you look happy every day, so I guess that's your default mood."
"Hi, Todd. Yeah, I'm a pretty happy girl these days."
Todd sat down in the chair next to her dryer. He was an extra on the set she'd met a few days ago. They met at craft services. He was wearing next to nothing and so was she, but they both went for the last donut anyway. He was easy on the eyes and fun to talk to, and so far, her only friend on the show.
"Well, we're on a TV show, why wouldn't we be happy? Just last week I was working at Urban Outfitters. And I had a second job as the mailroom guy at an advertising agency. Fun, fun. How about you?"
"Cheesecake Factory," she admitted. "For a really, really long time."
"So life isn't bad, huh? On that note, I was wondering if you wanted to go see a movie later or something. Popcorn's on me."
Penny was not completely shocked by this turn of events. And before Sheldon came along, Todd was exactly the type of guy she'd fall for-huge muscles, a six-pack, chestnut brown eyes, and a cute smile. She definitely saw his appeal, but she was relieved to find that she had absolutely zero interest. Penny was in love, and no six-packed Adonis was going to change that.
"Oh, well, thank you for the offer but I'm hanging out with my boyfriend today. We're going on a picnic, actually."
"A picnic, huh? Sounds...fun. Well, you know where to find me." And then he was gone. Penny shook her head. That was the thing-almost 100% of the men she'd met in her life were only interested in what they could see on the surface. Before they'd gotten together, Sheldon had been interested in Penny as a person. As a friend. He never saw her in a romantic or sexual light and he still wanted to hang out with her; he still sought out her opinions and help and advice and friendship. That was why he was the one. That's why she fell so hard for him. God, she was so fucked.
A few hours later in the park, Penny watched Sheldon talk excitedly his new project and she was so happy, she could puke rainbows. She had no idea what he was talking about but his whole body was animated as he described what he'd been doing lately.
"That is amazing, sweetie. Seriously, I'm so happy for you. And happy for me. Happy for us!"
"Speaking of which, have I mentioned how fetching you look as a redhead?"
"Only about 15 times," Penny said, grinning. Apparently Sheldon liked her hair. Red dresses and red hair were the way to this guy's heart.
Penny took one last bite of her PB&J and said, "Okay, come on, let's take a walk."
Sheldon looked at her like she suggested they watch that one Star Trek movie he hated (she never could keep track of these things) while sneezing on each other. "Walk? In this park? Penny, you know I'm trying to participate in the activities you happen to enjoy, but a picnic is just about crossing the line. And taking a walk? In an area so full of germs that I can practically see them floating in the air...come on, woman."
Penny exhaled. "We've been out here for a while now, though. So technically you've already been exposed to all the germs. So go for a walk with me, and when we get home, we can take a nice, long, hot shower."
He raised his eyebrows. Her "we" did not go unnoticed.
"I'm not sure if I enjoy that thing where I feel compelled to agree to do things I'm not entirely comfortable with just because you asked me to do them. What is that about?"
"It's called being in a relationship. You want to make me happy. It's normal, Sheldon. It's what grown-ups do."
They walked hand in hand around the park, taking in the nature they usually ignored, enjoying the moment before they both had to go back to work and get back to reality. Or, in Penny's case, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
It was possible that Penny had a motive on this walk. She'd been dating this guy for a few months and while he'd shown her a part of himself he'd never felt comfortable sharing with anyone else, she wanted more. She wanted inside. His heart, his brain, his soul. And she didn't think it was too much to ask.
So after a particularly engaging discussion about Captain Janeway and her lack of leadership skills (Sheldon had a lot of feelings about it), Penny decided it was time to get some information out of her boyfriend.
"I was wondering...once you get the Nobel Prize, what else do you want to do with your life? Do you see yourself working at the university forever?"
"Dear god, I hope not. The thought of teaching kids who can't even comprehend the complexity of the type of physics I've been studying and experimenting with for so many years makes me sick. No, I have plans to write a book. Possibly several books. I want to take my Nobel Prize money and travel. Hopefully in the future, the world will have more hypoallergenic destinations. Let's see...I've always wanted to take up sailing."
Penny tried really, really hard not to care that he didn't think to include her in any of these future plans.
"That all sounds...exciting. I think you'd be such a handsome sailor. But I'm curious...do you ever look down the road and see a family?"
"What road?" He looked around the park and Penny sighed. "I've seen a lot of families here at the park, Penny. Probably transmitting as many diseases as the hospital across the street"
"Sheldon. Don't be an idiot. You know what I mean."
He gripped her hand tighter. "I must admit, in the past I never gave it any thought. At all. Because it was never even a remote possibility that it would occur. But, ahem...recently I've started to think about it. About participating in the required nuptials, and then creating offspring that will carry my genetic code and possibly be smarter and taller than I am."
Penny couldn't help but smile. It's not like she wanted marriage and babies now or even in the foreseeable future. But she was thrilled he was open to the possibility.
"Well, that's...good to know," she said, and he looked at her, really looked at her, and his eyes were so blue and his face was so honest and she loved him so fucking much it hurt.
"What about you? Do you see yourself creating offspring?"
"Not any time soon, maybe five years down the road or so. But yes, I do. Growing up in Nebraska, that's all the little girls wanted. Marriage and babies. We'd have fake weddings all the time. All my friends already have babies and husbands but right now I just want to focus on my career."
"I understand. And I applaud you in your quest to seek out success instead of following the status quo. I do respect that about you, Penny. It's not every day that someone comes from such a backwards, rural upbringing and makes something out of themselves. You should be proud."
"Well, you did the same thing. East Texas is not exactly a breeding ground for geniuses."
He nodded in agreement and they both pondered how, in some ways, they did have so much in common.
"Oh, before I forget, you know Howard and Bernadette's wedding is next month, right?"
"Well, of course. I always know the dates of ridiculous social functions that I am required to attend. I was assuming you'd be my date."
Penny smiled. He was getting so much better at this relationship thing and she didn't even have to help him get there.
"Obviously. I'm excited, actually. I can't wait to see you all dressed up." It was true; she'd been looking forward to the wedding for months now. Her best friends, champagne, and the man she loved in a suit? What could be better than that?
They sat down on a bench and Penny fed the ducks some bread crumbs while Sheldon watched, horrified. They talked more about the future and the past and Penny couldn't believe how much he was opening up to her. If the boys could see him now, she thought to herself.
Somehow the conversation veered back to high school. Of course Sheldon had never experienced it, so he was intrigued by her experiences.
"I was into a little bit of everything in high school," Penny was saying. "I was a cheerleader but I also wanted to play football with the boys. I tried out for the team and everything. My dad was absolutely ecstatic. Almost made it. It was a huge scandal; the school board had to get involved and everything. Ultimately I decided all the hoopla wasn't worth it and just stuck to cheerleading."
"Good for you, trying to escape female gender role stereotypes. My family always encouraged gender stereotypes. Missy was always given dolls while they gave me toy guns. My father's dream for me was to be a quarterback and for Missy to be homecoming queen. Well, at least one of his dreams came true."
"You don't talk about your father much," Penny said, stroking his hand, wanting desperately to hear more about his past but not wanting to freak him out.
"There isn't much to say. He's gone. We never had much of a relationship to speak of, really. He wanted an athlete for a son and he got a genius instead. He never even made it past tenth grade. So needless to say, we got into a lot of fights. And he didn't mince words."
"That sounds like it was really hard."
"Well, it didn't help that George didn't meet his expectations, either. But he went the other way. Got a girl pregnant when he was 16. Got arrested for a burglary when he was 18. Sometimes I think my dad was proud of that, though. Prouder than having a son in college at 11 years old."
"My brother has issues, too. He also got a girl pregnant when they were 16. Ran away for a while. Came back without her. Sold meth. Got in trouble. And then never stopped getting in trouble."
Sheldon nodded and put his arm around her. There was an understanding between the two of them. Broken homes, broken families. Instant connection.
"Hey. We had some messed up childhoods but we're here now. We're together. And you know what? I love you and believe in you. So thank you for listening to me, and for taking walks in the park with me, and for everything else you do just to make me happy."
"Penny, I...you know I feel strongly about you but I just can't express myself as easily as you do. There's no one else in the world that I've ever felt this way about, but I can't..."
Penny kissed him softly. His grateful lips sunk into her mouth and if they hadn't been in a park full of people, things would have gotten interesting.
"I know, sweetie. Tell me when you're ready. I'll be here."
Later, they went back to Penny's place and spent almost an entire 24 hours in bed. Penny knew they would not have the luxury to do that soon and their schedules would get crazy. She had no idea that their schedules wouldn't be the biggest problem in their relationship. But she was going to find out soon enough.
What if she sucked? What if she couldn't remember her lines? What if this was her only chance and she screwed it up? What if she didn't like it? Now that her dream was finally, finally happening, what was she going to do now? When she really started to doubt herself, all she wanted to do was curl up with Sheldon and talk about it. But he was having his own career crisis.
Penny was also trying to keep up at her grant writing job. While she was so excited to finally be in a television show and actually getting paid for it, she found that writing had become almost just as important to her. She thought about writing her own webisodes or taking another shot at the screenplay she abandoned so many years ago. So she tried her hardest to maintain her second job while in the midst of filming a very popular TV show.
On the eighth day she hadn't so much as gotten a glimpse of Sheldon in the hallway or heard his voice on the phone, Penny decided to take matters into her own hands. They talked about this. Yes, they were busy, but they lived 30 feet away from each other. This was not cool.
So although she knew it was a somewhat risky move, Penny made her way to Sheldon's office when her grant writing shift was finally over for the day. She'd been thinking all day of what to say to him. There was no reason for confrontation; she'd try not to be dramatic if she could help it. Not only was she upset that they hadn't had time for each other, but she also just missed him. She'd gotten so used to seeing him almost every day, just connecting with him, and now that part of her was somewhat empty. It made her feel helpless, sort of. When had she ever gotten so emotionally attached to a boyfriend? Sometimes she wondered if it was even healthy.
Regardless, Penny made her way over to Sheldon's office, rehearsing what she was going to say. This shouldn't be so hard. Why was it so hard? Just when she was turning to the corner to the hallway that contained his office, she saw Leonard, Raj and Howard pacing outside Sheldon's door.
"Hey, guys. What are you doing out here?"
Leonard stepped in front of her, keeping her from going inside. "Penny...you may want to come back later. Or not at all. He's in one of those moods."
"What the hell do you mean, one of those moods? One where he wouldn't want to see his girlfriend? Move, Leonard. I want to see him." She was not in the mood to deal with this kind of drama.
"Penny! Why do you think the three of us are standing out here? For our health? He's in rare form. Raj just tried to go in there and Sheldon threw a stapler at him." Howard looked on the verge of tears. This was not good.
Penny put her ear to the door and could hear Sheldon rambling loudly about something.
"Why is he freaking out? Did someone steal the hand sanitizer from his office or something?"
Leonard sighed. "It started last week when he missed an important meeting with the heads of the department. They almost took him off the project and gave the grant to someone else, but somehow he convinced them not to. Yesterday he made some kind of gigantic error in his numbers and now he has to start all over again. He's frantic, Penny. Completely freaking out."
"Wow," Penny said, feeling terrible for her boyfriend. "I can't imagine how he feels. And he missed a meeting? How could he possibly do that? When was it?"
Leonard did not want to answer the question. Penny knew when Leonard didn't want to answer a question, and Leonard did not want to answer the question.
"Leonard...please, I need to know."
"He was with you at the park, okay? He's not happy about it. He's not happy with any of us."
Penny started to get the gist of what was going down. She turned to Howard. "What's he been saying about me? Just tell me, Howard. You know I'm stronger than you and will take you down in one move." She normally didn't like threatening him-it was just so easy to do-but she needed to know.
"He's mad at us because we didn't stop him from dating you. He said...um, he said that we should have known what would happen. He said-Penny, come on, you don't want to know what he said. It's not good. And he's not in his right mind, okay? This happens to physicists all the time. They lose track of reality and say things they don't mean."
"Just tell me and get it over with, Howard."
Everyone knew that Penny always got her way eventually. She was persistent like that. So Howard sighed again.
"He said...he said you were a distraction and you jeopardized his career."
Before Penny could even begin to process that devastating information, Sheldon's door swung open and he glared at his terrified friends. "What is all this caterwauling out here? What do you people want from me?" And then he saw Penny. And she could have sworn, the first expression to pass his tired face was happiness. Happiness to see her, happiness that she existed at all. In that moment she could see that what was about to happen wasn't really what he wanted. But...it happened anyway.
"Hi...Sheldon. I was just across the street and thought I'd come over and visit my loving, charming boyfriend. Do you know where he is, by any chance?"
"Penny, I cannot even begin to talk to you right now. Do you even comprehend how busy I am? I have no time for the frivolity of a relationship or whatever it is you're calling it these days! How you can just here while I'm in the middle of the most important project of my life is astounding to me."
Penny knew-she knew-that this wasn't about her. He was having problems at work and it wasn't her fault. But she wasn't made of stone. Sheldon had never talked to her like this before.
"Sheldon, I'm here because I miss you. And I know you're freaking out but I can help, okay? Let's just go into your office, close the door and talk it out."
"I don't want to talk," he said in a very calm, very quiet voice. "I've done enough talking to you to last a fucking lifetime! I'm sorry you wasted your time coming down here, but please leave. I need to get back to work." And then he turned around. He went back in the office. And he slammed the door in her face.
Penny stood there, frozen. He never swore. He never got so mad at her. He never slammed doors. This was not the Sheldon she loved. She could have gone back into his office and yelled until her throat was raw, but that wouldn't help. Not with Sheldon. She had no idea what to do or say.
Leonard, Raj and Howard, who had disappeared during this exchange, all slowly walked back down the hall and surrounded her.
Leonard put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Penny. He's not himself right now. Please, please don't take it personally. Look, I'm going out with Veronica tonight. He'll be home, I know he will. Go talk to him again. He'll have had time to think about what he just said and he'll feel terrible."
"Why would I want to do that? He just slammed a door in my face. I'm not the kind of girl that goes crawling back to a guy who slammed a door in her face and called her a distraction."
"But you are the kind of girl who won't give up on the guy she loves when she knows he's in trouble, right?"
"Yes, of course. Of course I am."
"Penny, I know it's none of our business, but what happened in the park that day? He's been on a rampage ever since. Did you insult his meemaw or something?"
"No, Howard, I didn't insult his meemaw! We just…talked. We walked around the park and talked about the future and he confided in me about some things. About his family. About wanting a family. Things like that."
Leonard exhaled. "That may be why he's freaking out now. Sheldon hates talking about his past. I've tried many times and aside from a few harmless stories, he refuses to talk about anything else. So…maybe that contributed to his meltdown."
Sheldon was losing his marbles because he shared so much with her that day? Ridiculous. She refused to believe it. They shared so much together, how could he be freaking out now? She was going to figure this out. Penny was not ready for this to end. But what if Sheldon was?
Penny drove home, climbed into bed and slept for way too long. That was her default way of dealing with heartbreak. Well, that and copious amounts of alcohol. Which there would be plenty of time for later.
When she woke up, she took a shower and took calm, collected breaths. She'd walk over, they'd talk it out and everything would be fine. She'd show him the error of his ways and they'd move on. It was just a lover's spat, right? Right?
Penny walked across the hall and barged in the apartment. It wasn't locked.
"Ah, Penny. I was expecting you," Sheldon said, sitting at his computer and not even looking up from what he was typing.
"Oh, yeah? What were you expecting, exactly?"
"I was expecting you to storm in here angrily and want an explanation as to why I was so abrupt at my office today."
"Well, that would be a good place to start. But I don't want to interrupt your oh-so-important project that I've been distracting you from, so let me know when you have a minute to talk."
"You got it."
"Oh, good, I'm 14 for 35 this month."
She just stared at him. It was like he'd reverted back to whoever he was when she first met him. Her annoying neighbor that drove her crazy and was too smart for his own good.
Sheldon finally stopped typing for a second and looked at her. She was sitting at Leonard's desk, too mad and heartbroken to even say anything. It was his turn to talk. Penny was willing to hear him out, but if he wanted to continue this relationship of theirs, he was going to need an acceptable explanation for being such an awful douchebag.
"I regret my unfortunate choice of words earlier today, but I was angry. You can't just come to my office and expect me to drop everything to attend to your needs. I've made some grievous mistakes with this project and if I make one more error, even a small one, I'll be taken off of it. My career; my life will be ruined." She waited for him to say something else, anything else, but it seemed he was satisfied with that answer.
Penny cleared her throat and tried to remain calm.
"First of all, I wasn't expecting you to drop everything, Sheldon. I only came by to say hello. We're both so busy and excuse the crap out of me for wanting to see my boyfriend for an entire five minutes out of one week. I respect your work and I haven't tried to keep you from achieving your goals, so don't put this on me. I just thought you might want to take a break for a few minutes and see your girlfriend for some stress relief."
"That's what you don't understand, Penny. I do not want a break from my work. My work is all I have. It's what's kept me afloat for all these years. Back when I had nothing. Back when I was a terrified pre-teen in college with no friends and a family who didn't know what to do with me. It has sustained me and I have turned my back on it to be with you. I can't do it anymore, Penny. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I can't do it."
He really was such a mess. The only thing she really wanted to do was put her arms around him and reassure him that everything would be okay, they'd get through this together. But he clearly didn't want that. Things were derailing fast and Penny had no idea what to do.
"Your work is all you have. Is that really what you're saying to me right now?"
"Yes. When it comes down to it, when I'm gone, I want my legacy to be about accomplishments. Science. Physics. Reaching my goals. Is my romance with you going to be in textbooks when I die? No, but my Nobel Prize will be."
Oh, she was really started to get pissed off now. She got up from Leonard's chair and started pacing around the room. Sheldon watched her with nothing but intellectual curiosity.
"Penny, I don't understand why you're so upset. You have your own career to focus on now. We're all very proud that you were finally able to find some work in your chosen field. Why are you so determined to be in a relationship when you finally have everything you want?"
Sheldon was not this stupid, Penny thought. He could not be this…obtuse! Oh, great, another word she learned from him.
"Everything I want? If I had everything I wanted, I'd live in a mansion next to Jennifer Aniston and have 35 golden retriever puppies. And you would wake up next to me every day and we'd wear different pajamas every night without freaking out about it. People can have relationships and jobs, Sheldon. Normal people do it every single day."
Sheldon actually looked offended.
"I'm highly offended that you would refer to me as 'normal'. I have an IQ of 187, Penny. That's hardly 'normal'."
Penny exhaled. She was getting nowhere. It was like talking to the pet rock she had when she was four years old. She'd take the rock everywhere and tell it stories and nurture it and yet the rock never gave anything back. Because it was a rock. Sheldon…was a rock.
"You know, I read a book in high school. It was about a man with a very low IQ. He was sweet as pie but kind of dumb as a rock. And then they did some kind of experiment on him or something and he got smarter and was eventually smarter than the people running the experiment. And then, the smartness wore off and he was dumb as a rock again. Only now he knew what the other side was like. Before he got smart, he didn't know what he was missing and he was happy as can be. But after he lost it, he couldn't stop thinking about how his life was before, when he was smart."
Sheldon sighed. "Yes, Penny, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. First published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. What does that have to do with this conversation?"
"You are Algernon. Or Charlie. Or both of them. You were happy and oblivious to the world of romance and sex and dating and it was fine. And then I come along and confess my feelings and you want to do an 'experiment' and I was led to believe that you were in this thing with me. That you and I...felt the same way about each other. And now you're going back to the way you were before and I have no choice in the matter and it's just not fair."
"I'm almost positive that I have no idea what you're trying to say, except that you're comparing me to a rat. Look...I know that you have rather strong feelings for me. And I like you, too. It was an interesting experiment that yielded fascinating results. But I have to move on now. My work is way too important to risk; I've already jeopardized everything by letting myself get distracted."
Penny's heart was breaking and there was nothing she could do about it. So...she chose anger.
"Again with the distraction? Do you know any other words to describe me, Sheldon? Because you certainly didn't find me a distraction while you were fucking me the past couple of months."
Sheldon stopped typing for a second and looked over at the sofa, where she was sitting/standing, too pissed to stay in one place.
"Yes, well, maybe that was a mistake. I let curiosity get the better of me and I lost control. Don't worry, it won't happen again."
Really? Was this really happening?
"You're calling the sex a mistake?"
"If you must know, yes, I am. I've never let myself indulge in romance or sexual endeavors because I felt it would lessen the purity of my work. And now here we are, and look what happened." He waved his hands, like he was referring to the empty space around them as what was left of their stupid, broken relationship.
"You know, for some reason...I thought you loved me. I thought you loved me as much I love you. I'm such an idiot." She knew it was pathetic, but what the hell. He'd seen every single side of her there was to see. She couldn't hide from him. It was all or nothing now.
"But Penny...I never said those words. You've said it to me 12 times and I haven't said it back. So it's not very scientific of you to come to a conclusion as to how I feel about you."
Everything instinct she had was screaming to get up and leave and never talk to him again. But even while he was saying these shitty things to her, he looked so lost and sad. Penny knew-she knew with her heart and soul-that he didn't really mean any of this. He was upset about messing up his project and he had to blame someone, so he was blaming her. And he was feeling vulnerable after opening up to her about his past. And now he was sabotaging the relationship so she'd get mad and end it. The problem with that? It was working.
But she tried to get through to him one more time. Penny came over to his desk and put her hands on his shoulders and leaned in so he could hear her loud and clear. "Do you really want this? We've been through so much together. You've changed so much and I'm so proud of you! You know how I feel about you, Sheldon...you know what I can do for you. You know I'll always care about you and be there for you. Do you really want to give that up?"
"I never wanted to change! I am a simple person, Penny. I never needed you to come and...fix me. My routines are routines for a reason. I need them; they sustain me. And you came along and you changed everything! I've never felt so out of control. The sex...it made me feel like I was a superhero and I never wanted that to happen. My work is what should make me feel that way, not giving into my urges or losing my self control. I never wanted this. Please, Penny...leave me alone. I don't know what else I can say to make you leave me alone!"
And then her heart broke all over again. Not for her, but for Sheldon. What he was saying was tearing her apart, but the fact that he felt this way hurt even more.
She started pacing again. "I never wanted that, Sheldon. I never wanted to change you, or...hurt you."
"Well, you did. Now, this conversation is really impeding on my progress on this project. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
And there was the anger again. If he was going to play it that way, she was going to play dirty, too.
"Okay. I'm going to leave. But I hope when you're laying in bed at night and can't sleep, you'll think about this very moment. The moment where you fucked up an entire relationship. You know, I could live without seeing you for days. I could live with you working your ass off for this project, I could live with waiting for you however long I had to. Because once upon a time I thought you were worth it. But you know what I'm finding out today? You're just like the rest of them. You may be a little smarter and you may be a little nicer, but you're still a selfish, manipulative bastard. This could have been something amazing, Sheldon. And now it's nothing."
She knew, even after all of this, that his heart was breaking as much as hers. But the difference was, he wasn't going to do anything about it. He was going to let her walk out of that door and end this thing. And it hurt. It hurt even more than all the other guys who'd broken her heart, because this was Sheldon. The only guy she thought would never hurt her.
"What?" She hoped whatever he said next would be significant. That it would have some kind of hope. Have some kind of hint that he was still Sheldon, and not some alien who invaded his body.
"You're in my spot."
Oh, it was significant, all right.
And then she left, and it was over, and she slammed her door, and she cried so hard that they had to postpone one of her scenes the next morning because her throat was so raw. And a few days later when she was in full on anger mode, she found Todd and asked him if he'd like to go with a wedding with her. Because if she was going down, she was taking everyone with her.
Penny was trying to be an adult about this break-up, she really was. She and Sheldon were only together for a few months. It wasn't the love story of the century or anything. It wasn't like her break-up with Kurt-they were together for four years and she lived with him and every bit of her self-esteem and worth were tied into that relationship. Thank god for moving across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard. They were the only people who could have saved her and they did, one Star Trek at a time.
But now she didn't have a Leonard and certainly not a Sheldon. All her friends were busy doing their own thing. Howard was up in friggin' space and Bernadette was left behind in wedding planning hell. Leonard was working on some laser thing at work and spending most of his free time with Veronica. Even Raj had a new endeavor-Amy had taken him under her wing. Her new project at work was to cure him of his selective mutism. Penny had no idea why Amy was so determined to fix Raj, but if it worked, Amy's persistence would be worth it. But despite their busy schedules, Penny knew if she called any one of her friends and said she needed to talk, they'd be there in a second. But she was determined to get through this on her own.
And she did. She'd go to work and act her ass off and she'd get compliments from everyone on the production, like they were surprised that she turned out to be such a great actress. She'd go to her other job and write grants like a boss; ignoring the fact that Sheldon was only across the street in his office. After work, Penny would go to the gym and spend hours on the treadmill or the elliptical or the bike. She'd lift weights that weighed more than her. Some of the men looked at her with jealousy and she took pride in the fact that she was so healthy and had so much endurance and was so strong.
And then she got her first check in the mail for the show. It was more than she'd made in the past five years combined, and it wasn't even that big of a check. Remembering that she was trying to be an adult about this, she put it in the bank and immediately brought her car to the mechanic. $6,000 later, she had a new transmission and countless other repairs that would have bankrupted her in the past. Sheldon would have been so proud, except she was trying not to think about him and her decision to fix the car instead of buy a new one was not influenced by him at all, not in the least, no way.
But at home, it was a different story. At home, all Penny could think about was how she was like 20 feet away from where Sheldon was laying his head to sleep and it made her go on crying jags that lasted entire episodes of Star Trek. Eventually she had to take all her Star Trek and Farscape DVDs and anything else that had to do with aliens and bury them in the back of her closet. All she wanted to do was spend the rest of her money on booze and ice cream and have herself a real pity party. But alcohol made her look bloated and those outfits on Game of Thrones were not very forgiving. So instead she drank lots of water, cried like a newborn baby, watched Jerry Maguire 17 times, and occasionally ate some cookie dough (her go-to comfort food) only after a hardcore work-out. Penny was a mess, and she couldn't help it because she missed Sheldon so much, all 6'2 of him, every inch of his weird, socially inept, awkward but incredibly endearing and loving and charming (in his own way) self.
Sometimes she'd get into a place where she couldn't stop thinking about the sex. How he was so new at it, so inquisitive, so tender and sometimes so rough. She missed the sex. She missed Sheldon. She couldn't even take solace in the fact that he was just as miserable as she was because, well, he probably wasn't. Sheldon was probably curing cancer by now with all the time he was spending at work. Penny was sure the thought of her never even crossed his mind. Why would it? He was the one who pulled the plug. He was the one who ended it.
After the break-up, there was exactly 43 days until Bernadette and Howard's rehearsal dinner, and the wedding a few days later. Penny knew the exact number of days by heart, because that was when she'd have to see Sheldon again. Sheldon couldn't avoid going-he was one of Howard's groomsmen and even if he did want to bail on it, his sense of obligation would never let him. Meanwhile, Penny knew Sheldon's schedule and could completely avoid him in the hall, which was definitely easier now that he was at work all the time. Occasionally she could still hear him coming up the stairs and unlocking the door. When Penny knew he was home, maybe she should have knocked on his door and gave him a peace offering. Maybe she could have insisted they stay civil; they were such good friends before, why did they have to let a botched relationship attempt ruin their friendship? She was still friends with Leonard, after all. But it was different and everyone knew it was different and damn it, she still had some pride.
So it seemed as though the old times in the apartment were over now. Everything was changing and Penny had to change along with it. They had a good run, right? Time to grow up. Time to move on. So even though all she wanted to do was stay at home and watch Friends reruns (Ross and Rachel were lobsters! Where was her lobster?) while drowning her sorrows with red wine, she called Todd. She figured they should at least go on one date before she threw him in a room with all her crazy friends. And a small part of her actually missed dating. Dating, she was good at. It was relationships that ended up breaking her heart.
There was about a week left before D-Day when Todd picked her up for their date. He was so handsome and charming and normal, and it would be so easy just to forget about stupid nerdy Sheldon from across the hall. Todd only knocked once on her door and waited an adequate amount of time for Penny to answer it. He brought her flowers and gave her a kiss on the cheek, and then complimented her outfit. No doubt, he was good at this dating thing, too.
Penny was half-expecting Sheldon to be in the hall when they left for their date, but since they didn't live in a sitcom, Sheldon was nowhere to be seen. She and Todd chatted about the broken elevator while they made the climb down three flights of stairs.
At the fancy restaurant Todd took Penny to in his own car, after they'd ordered, he turned to her with a serious look on his face. "So, Penny, I thought for sure this was never going to happen."
"Oh, yeah? Well, are you glad it did?" It felt good to flirt again. Every time she did, it felt like she was getting just a little bit more over Sheldon.
"I'm stoked, actually. You caught my eye from the moment I first saw you. Of course, you weren't wearing any clothes so that helped."
She laughed and softly punched him in the shoulder. "I was wearing some clothes. But yeah, they really didn't like to wear stuff back in the...whenever the show takes place."
"So that day when I asked you out and you so rudely declined, you said something about a boyfriend..."
Ugh, the fateful picnic day. She didn't want to talk about it. She didn't want to think about how adorably out of place Sheldon looked at the park, and how he held her hand while they walked around, and how he told her he wanted to have a family one day, and how he looked at her when she said she did, too. She didn't want to remember any of that, especially not at that moment, but it was happening anyway.
"Oh, are we going here now? On a first date and everything?"
"I figured we'd get it out of the way and have more pleasant things to look forward to later."
Penny sighed. "Yeah. I had a boyfriend. That pretty much crashed and burned. I assume you know how it is."
He nodded and took a sip of wine before answering. "Her name was Stephanie. Is Stephanie, she hasn't died or anything. We lived together for three years. And, not gonna lie-it still hurts."
"It sucks, doesn't it?" She didn't specify what "it" was supposed to mean exactly; she was pretty sure he knew exactly what she was talking about anyway.
"Super sucks. But hey, here we are, maybe this will go somewhere and we can parade our new found love before Stephanie and...?"
"We can parade our new found love before Sheldon and Stephanie and make them feel like total balls. Speaking of which, this wedding we're going to?"
"Yep. Sheldon will be there. I hope you're okay with that."
"I'm more than happy with that, as long as you'll go with me to my friend's birthday party next month."
Penny laughed. "I'd happily be your arm candy for the night, Todd."
They chatted and ate their food and shared a piece of chocolate cake for dessert, and Penny found that she really liked him. And apparently she'd misjudged him before. She did catch his attention with her looks at first, but now it was more than that. He asked her questions about her writing, her family, growing up in Nebraska. He was genuinely interested in Penny. And she wanted to know all about him, too. It turned out that they had a lot in common. And when they got back to her apartment, she didn't ask him to come in for a cup of coffee or anything else that was obviously an invitation for first date sex. Instead, he gave her a nice, lingering, sexy kiss that she found mildly intriguing, and then he left. It was a perfectly good date and she liked him. And she missed Sheldon with every fiber of her being.
Soon, the 43 days was over and it was time for the big day. Well, the rehearsal for the big day. Penny didn't want to go to the rehearsal dinner. And really, she didn't even want to go to the wedding. Bernadette had quickly become one of her best friends and Penny wanted to support her, but this whole thing was turning her into a nervous wreck. It was a small victory that she'd been able to avoid Sheldon for an entire 43 days and now she was about to be face to face with him. So many pictures were going to be taken; so many dances were going to happen, so many wedding festivities were going to occur. Sheldon would be unavoidable. Not enough time had gone by for her to be in the same room as him. He'd broken her heart and didn't even care. So she'd been spending the last couple of days psyching herself up for this. Penny didn't need or want Sheldon. He was selfish and insensitive and immature and she was completely fine without him. What the hell did she want with a 32 year old physicist anyway? She had better things to do. His name was Todd and he was about to come pick her up.
Her phone buzzed and she smiled when she saw a text message from Amy.
I can't wait to meet your new stud muffin today. He's so lucky to have such a femme fatale as yourself as a date. Eat your heart out, Sheldon.
Penny texted back, MY date? I can't wait to meet yours! From the picture you sent of the two of you together, I can tell Holly makes you very happy. And she's gorgeous!
Not as gorgeous as you, bestie. But then again, so few people are. See you soon.
Penny missed Amy. She missed all her friends, really. She was looking forward to finally being in the same room with them. Well, most of them.
She was going to send another text when Todd knocked on her door. She opened it to a very handsome man. Todd certainly did make a suit look good. But Penny suspected he probably looked good in damn near everything. With such a perfect body, that wasn't a hard thing to achieve.
"You look hot," Penny said when she opened the door. Why not be blunt? They both knew they were attracted to each other. Why not play with it?
"So do you," he said, giving her an approving once-over. She did look good. Since she was wearing a red bridesmaid dress for the wedding, she went the opposite for the rehearsal with a little black dress. Penny hardly ever took it out of the closet because it just wasn't fair to everyone else. Sure, sometimes she was cocky about her body. But after all those work-outs, she deserved to be.
"So are you ready for this thing?" She asked as the descended the stairs.
"I think the better question is, are you ready for this thing? I don't know these people; I'm just here to support you. So tell me what's on your mind."
Todd didn't mess around and she liked that about him. There wouldn't be any games in this relationship, just blunt honesty.
"I'm excited to see my friends because we've all been so busy lately. But I'm nervous about seeing Sheldon because I don't know if I'll want to punch him in the face or give him a big kiss. For the record, I'm leaning towards punching him in the face."
"Well, that's certainly good news for me."
In the car, they listened to her Guns N' Roses CD with no complaints, and chatted about Game of Thrones and other assorted things they had in common. It was so easy to talk to him. Maybe too easy. Penny wasn't sure why she thought that, but it was a bit disconcerting. It was almost like dating him would lack challenges, and if she'd proven anything to herself lately, it was that she loved a challenge.
When they got to the restaurant, Penny and Todd walked arm and arm into the party. They hadn't even gotten in the door when Raj ran up to Penny and gave her a bear hug.
"Penny! It is so fantastic to see you! We've all missed you so much."
"Raj? Have you had anything to drink this evening?"
"No! This is all me, baby."
Penny smiled happily. "That is so amazing, Raj. I am so excited for you. Amy is a miracle worker."
"She is. Too bad she's a lesbian now." He gazed sadly in Amy's direction and sighed.
"Don't worry, Raj. I'm sure you'll find a nice heterosexual girl soon, now that you can actually talk to them. This is my date, Todd. Todd, this is Raj. He can talk to women now!"
"That's great, buddy," Todd said, shaking Raj's hand.
Raj looked at Todd suspiciously and then back at Penny. Penny shrugged, as if to say, "Well, what did you expect? Sheldon broke up with me, dude."
"Bestie!" Penny heard Amy shriek. Penny nudged Todd and said, "Brace yourself. This might get ugly."
Amy came bounding towards Penny and nearly knocked her over. "I am so happy to see you! Between curing Raj, helping plan this wedding, throwing the bachelorette party and dating Holly, I've barely had time to process my thoughts. Which, let's just be honest, are mostly about my sexual needs and how I will find a way to satisfy them."
Penny chuckled. "Yes, Amy, I hope you get to satisfy your needs. You deserve it. Oh, hey, sorry I missed the bachelorette party, I was filming that day."
"You didn't miss much. It was just me and Bernadette. Eventually she got tired of playing Twister so we watched a documentary about the Panama Canal. Things got carrazzzyy."
"This is Todd, by the way. He's one of my co-stars on Game of Thrones."
"So dreamy!" Amy exclaimed before putting her hand over her mouth. "I mean, hi, nice to meet you."
"So, you know Raj is completely in love with you now, right?" Penny asked. A man with a tray of champagne walked by and she grabbed two of them, handing one to Todd even though she wanted to drink both of them.
"Oh, yes. He's my little Indian man candy boy. But he doesn't have the right genitalia to interest me anymore."
Small talk, chit chatter, exchanging pleasantries with everyone. Shaking Howard's mother's disgusting, scaly hand and meeting Bernadette's equally terrifying mother. Giving Leonard a long, drawn out hug and realizing she actually missed the bastard. Talking to Veronica about how Leonard's lactose intolerance was inconvenient for everybody. Saying hello to Bernadette and Howard, who were looking tired and excited and crazy and tired. Introducing Todd to everyone, answering questions about Game of Thrones, accepting compliments about how good she looked. Penny did all these things without so much as glimpsing Sheldon out of the corner of her eye. Part of her wished to get it over with; get the awkwardness out of the way so she could at least try to enjoy the rest of the evening. But she was also grateful that their inevitable meeting was delayed for a while.
The rehearsal dinner was small, just close friends and family. The restaurant was somewhat fancy and it was a nice, impressive affair. Apparently both Bernadette and Howard's mothers chipped in since they were just so relieved their babies were getting married.
Penny was laughing at one of Howard's ridiculous jokes when she saw Sheldon out of the corner of her eye. Of course she'd see him for the first time the second she let her guard down. It was unnerving. Especially unnerving was how he seemed to be staring at her, and not subtly. Thankfully, soon it was time to sit down for dinner. Sheldon was sitting at the complete opposite end of the table from her and Todd, which was actually kind of a relief. She took a second to study him after she initially lost her breath from the shock of seeing him for the first time after so long. Even though she didn't want to, Penny had to admit he looked pretty damn good. His hair was even longer now; not rock star long, but long for Sheldon. He was wearing a nice suit that she hadn't even picked out for him. And he was conversing with Raj and Amy and Amy's girlfriend and seemed happy and vibrant and Penny hated him so much she definitely wanted to punch him in the face.
"From the expression on your face right now, I guess we've finally found the infamous Dr. Sheldon Cooper," Todd said.
"Oh, yes, there he is in all his nerdy glory."
"After seeing him, I can totally understand why you'd go for me. We look like twins." He said all this without a single hint of jealousy or insecurity in his voice. Penny liked this about him.
Penny snorted. "Yes, it's like you're looking in a mirror, I'm sure."
"What's the deal with that guy? He doesn't look like your type at all. Was he good in bed or something?"
She cringed a little but answered the question. "He wasn't my type. I'm not his type, either. It's a long story...we just kind of connected. We had this understanding. And not a lot of people get Sheldon, but I always did. He's quirky and annoying but he's so endearing when you get to know him. And...I've said too much."
"No, no, I asked."
She turned to him and smiled. "Thank you for coming here with me. You didn't have to and I appreciate it. And thank you for being so supportive." She leaned in and kissed him for a beat too long. He smiled at this turn of events. Todd was a nice guy. And he was so hot. But he wasn't Sheldon. Who was now, she happened to notice, watching her. And he didn't look happy.
After dessert, required speeches were made and more alcohol was enjoyed. Eventually, the lights were turned down and the music was turned up. Couples started slowly making their way to the dance floor. Amy and Holly were first, and Penny watched with amusement as Amy's idea of dancing was to grind Holly into oblivion. Raj danced with Bernadette while Howard danced with Bernadette's mother, a terrified smile on his face the entire time.
"You want to?" Todd asked Penny when they finished a spirited discussion about who they thought the biggest assface on the Game of Thrones set was.
"Let's do it," Penny said, grinning.
Penny was not much of a dancer. Most of the dates she'd been on were based on movies, dinner, and then making out back at her apartment. It was rare that one of her suitors actually cared enough to go dancing with her. She found that dancing with Todd was kind of a more intimate experience than she anticipated. It was nice to be in his arms. Not amazing, not terrible, but nice.
She was thinking about leaning in for another kiss (why not?) when it happened. Out of nowhere, Dr. Sheldon Cooper showed up behind Todd and tapped him on the shoulder. Penny could feel her insides fall out of her body one by one. No, no, no, this is not happening.
"Excuse me, do you mind if I cut in?" Sheldon asked Todd, and Penny wanted to die.
Todd glanced at Penny and she didn't know what to do, so she just nodded. They weren't teenagers; she wasn't going to cause a scene even if she did want to go running in the opposite direction.
"Sure, man. Be careful with her, though. She bites." Todd stepped aside and Penny watched him walk away. Sheldon attached himself to her and she didn't know what to do with all the ridiculous feelings and thoughts going through her head rapid-fire.
"Penny, hello. You are looking very aesthetically pleasing this evening."
"Sheldon, what are you doing? I was enjoying dancing with my date."
"Yes, I saw that. As did everyone else in the room. He looks like a very nice man, but I'm sure his IQ is much lower than mine. He probably doesn't even have a Master's degree, much less a Ph.D. I'm afraid I don't approve, Penny."
She stared at him increduously. "Approve of what? And why do I care what you do and don't approve of, Sheldon?"
"Well, we're friends, right? I thought my opinion might be of use to you."
"We're 'friends'? You haven't called me in a month. You told me to leave you alone. You told me you never loved me. Me and Leonard? We're friends. Me and you? We're nothing." Okay, so she was mad and that wasn't a very nice thing to say. But sometimes Sheldon deserved a small dose of reality, since nobody exactly knew what the hell was going on in his head.
"Penny..." he said softly, and her heart broke just a little bit more. "Penny, I feel that I owe you an apology. This last month without you has been unsatisfactory. I changed my routines to fit you in my life and now that you're gone, I have to change again. While I am achieving success at work, my home life leaves a lot to be desired."
Penny sighed. "What are you saying, Sheldon? You want to be friends again because you miss your routine?"
Penny wasn't an idiot and she knew Sheldon almost better than she knew herself. Of course she knew he wasn't talking about his routine or being friends or anything else. He missed her. He wanted her back. But if he couldn't find a way to tell her exactly what he wanted, she wasn't going to give it to him.
Sheldon looked flustered. This conversation wasn't going the way he planned.
"Well, yes. You used to be an essential part of my routine and you know how much I despise change."
"You should have thought of that before you were a complete asshole," Penny blurted out, and got the attention of everyone within earshot.
"Yes, I'm afraid I was a bit abrupt with you at our last meeting. Again, I apologize. Work was stressful and I wasn't handling it properly. But I believe the hard part is over and I will have more time to fit you into my schedule. Of course, you'd have to cease your interactions with this Todd person, but I trust you won't have a problem with that."
Penny wasn't a violent person, but she never wanted to slap another human being as much as she did at that moment.
"You are unbelievable, Sheldon. You have some major balls to be saying this crap to me right now. Where do you get off? What makes you think I'm going to drop everything and jump back into your arms? Unfuckingbelievable."
His face fell and she felt like such a bitch, but he needed to know. He wasn't going to get away with this crap, not from her and not from anybody else.
"But...I miss our dinners, Penny. The spaghetti with cut up hot dogs. Nobody else will make it for me. And I miss watching Star Trek with you and answering all your questions and explaining it to you. And I miss...I miss touching you. I miss coitus."
Penny waited for him to say the three words she wanted to hear. "I miss you" was acceptable, but "I love you" was what she most desired. It's what she deserved.
"Well, Sheldon, I'm sorry. But that's not enough for me. Of course I miss those things too, but I'm not going to ditch Todd tonight and go off with you into the sunset. You broke my heart, and it's not enough."
His hand tightened around her waist and she wished he'd say what she wanted to hear. The look on his face was devastating and she wanted nothing more than to scoop him up and never, ever leave him. But how was she supposed to know how sincere he was? Sure, Sheldon missed the sex and the food and the feeling of superiority over her. But did he miss her? Was he willing to sacrifice things to be with her? Was he willing to let her into his life completely when things got tough instead of shutting her out? This is what she wanted to know, and he wasn't going to answer those questions. It wasn't enough.
Todd thankfully came back over and tapped Sheldon on the shoulder. "Okay, buddy, I think she's done."
Sheldon looked at Penny, then back at Todd, confusion deep in his blue eyes. She hated this. She hated it so much.
Without a word, he released Penny and watched as she and Todd danced the rest of the song. It was the most uncomfortable moment of her life.
Todd escorted Penny up the three flights of stairs and came inside after she unlocked the door. He sat on her sofa and motioned for her to sit next to him.
"We need to talk," he said sadly.
"Oh, shit, really? Do we have to?"
"We do. Come on, come over here."
She sat next to him and he put his arm around her. This was not how she thought the night would go. In her head, she envisioned making out and maybe a little heavy petting. Not a serious chat.
"I know you're going to deny this, but you still love this Sheldon kid. And I'm not mad about it and I'm not jealous, but I think you need to figure out what's happening with him before we take this any further. I can see a future for us; a happy future. I can't promise you I'll wait around for a long time, but I'll be here if you decide to move on from that dude. But I see it in your face and your eyes and I hear it in your voice and I think you owe it to yourself to find out."
Why did Todd have to be so perfect?
"But I don't know if I want that. Sheldon made me so mad tonight, I wanted to kill him."
"Which means you still have some kind of love for him, or else you wouldn't hate him so much. Look, I'll still be here. But I think you should go to the wedding without me and see what happens. What you feel."
"Is this just because you don't want to go to the wedding with me?"
Todd chuckled. "Sort of. But really, I want you to be happy. You deserve that. I'll be here either way."
Penny kissed him, so very grateful that she had this new friend who cared about her more than she thought. And when he left, she washed her face, brushed her teeth, got in bed and cried herself to sleep.
Penny did not cry at weddings and she never understood people who did. She'd been to a lot of them back in Nebraska when her friends were all getting married so very young. Mostly she only felt pity for her friends because in her eyes, they were forsaking their youth and freedom for nothing. But now? Maybe it was because she was getting older and her biological clock was ticking out of control, but she found herself nearly sobbing throughout the whole ceremony. She couldn't help it-Howard Wolowitz, the Pervert of Pasadena, was finally settling down with the woman he loved. And Bernadette looked so beautiful in her dress, and she was so in love, and so very happy.
It didn't help that standing straight across from her during the ceremony was Sheldon, who was looking at Penny with a weird mixture of lust, pity, regret and frustration. The only thing keeping her from having a complete meltdown was Amy gripping her hand tightly. Penny felt bad; Amy was Bernadette's maid of honor and had plenty of things to worry about other than Penny's complete and utter downfall.
Before Howard and Bernadette said their vows, Bernadette's brother Joey recited a Shakespeare poem. It wasn't the most romantic piece of literature, but it perfectly summarized their relationship.
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
This only made Penny cry harder, of course. She couldn't help but steal glances of Sheldon while Joey read the poem. He wasn't perfect. He had issues. And sometimes he was just plain bat crap crazy. But damn it, she loved the idiot anyway. And if he wasn't going to fight for her, the hell with him. She had Todd's number on speed dial.
Howard and Bernadette had written their own vows. Howard rambled on about being an engineer and how when he was younger and if he had the right tools and someone would have told him to engineer his perfect woman, he would have made someone exactly like Bernadette. Or...something like that. Bernadette's vows were about love and compassion and taking care of him when he was sick and somewhere in there she made sure to make it known that if he became a zombie, she'd let him bite her so they could live as zombies together. It was all so romantic and Penny wanted to vomit.
It wasn't exactly a traditional wedding ceremony-Howard's mother insisted on at least some of it catering to Jewish tradition while Bernadette's family wanted it strictly Catholic. To compromise, they had a rather non-denominational service with Catholic overtones, and after the kiss, which was lovely even if it did include way too much tongue, Howard stepped on glass and everyone yelled, "Mazel Tov!" It wasn't much, but it satisfied Howard's mother. And then it was over, thankfully, because Penny couldn't take much more of these beautiful love particles swirling around in the air. Where were her love particles? She kind of wished she could have convinced Todd to come with her anyway. Damn him and his kindness and understanding.
As the ceremony came to a close, Penny was heading to the bathroom to fix her tear-stained disaster of a face when Sheldon suddenly appeared before her.
"What is it, Sheldon?"
"Hello, Penny. I wanted to see if you were in need of a handkerchief. You seemed to have reacted quite strongly to the vows." He took one from his suit pocket and offered it to her.
"No, I don't want your handkerchief. Please get out of my way so I can go to the bathroom."
Of course she wanted his handkerchief. She also wanted a lot of things that she couldn't have.
"Well, okay. I don't want to interrupt your bladder evacuating needs." And he got out of her way. Maybe if he tried a little harder, maybe if he said anything else, any sentence that didn't include the word "bladder", she would have given him a chance to say what she wanted to hear. Apparently he wasn't interested in such chances.
Penny rode with Amy and Raj to the wedding reception. Amy gave Penny plenty of tissues and Penny spent most of the short car ride reapplying her make-up. This was a fiasco. And there were still so many hours left of it.
"Penny...I know it's not really any of our business, but Sheldon's a huge mess right now. Can't you guys just say sorry and make up? He's kind of making our lives difficult. All the time. Every day."
"Sorry my depressing love life is inconvenient for you, Raj. But he has to figure this out on his own. I'm not his relationship guidance counselor."
"It's true, Raj. Sheldon sucks at this dating thing. I had to beg him to cuddle me and he wouldn't even go to second base when it was right there for the taking. Sheldon has to grow up and realize what his priorities are."
Raj looked confused. "But didn't you guys break up because he was so focused on work? How is that wrong, exactly? He's one of the smartest minds on the planet, Penny. How can you be mad at him for that?"
Penny didn't have an answer for that right away. Neither did Amy. Finally Penny said, "I'm not trying to get him to do something ridiculous like quit his job or something. I never wanted that. I just want to be a part of his life. And he wasn't willing to fit me in."
"And that's understandable. But can't you cut him some slack? Right now he's trying to get his Nobel Prize. And you're trying to become a big-time actress. So maybe you two can cultivate your careers and your interests and support each other in these endeavors even if you don't get to see him as often, and when you achieve your goals, you can spend more time together. And it will be that much sweeter when it happens."
"Raj, when did you become such a philosopher?" Penny was annoyed with this conversation, mostly because Raj was right. While she never wanted to interfere with Sheldon's work, and while she wanted to blame him 100% for the break-up, she was finally seeing her role in the whole mess.
"Amy has created a whole new world for me," he said softly. "One with flowers and clouds and puppies and rainbows."
"Raj, chill. Your genitalia does not interest me at this stage of my life."
As soon as they made it to the reception, they all made a beeline for the buffet. Penny knew Sheldon wouldn't touch the buffet with a ten foot pole so she was safe for the moment.
Penny ignored all the usual reception nonsense until it was time for the speeches. Amy went first and said some beautiful things about Bernadette's love for Howard, plus a lot of weird sexual innuendos that made everyone uncomfortable. Then it was time for Raj's Best Man speech. Until just a few days ago, everyone was pretty sure Raj would have to whisper it in Howard's ear. It was kind of a miracle that he was able to speak in front of everyone now. Penny was proud of him.
"My friend Howard has always thought of himself as a ladies' man, but unfortunately the ladies never agreed with him." Pause for laughter. "Except for an unfortunate fling with Leslie Winkle and a few expensive encounters with the Whore of Omaha, Howard has never known what it felt like to love a woman. Until he met Bernadette, everyone was pretty sure he would end up with me. Hey, he'd be lucky to have me, but that's besides the point. His love for Bernadette is pure and simple and beautiful. When Howard talks about her, his face lights up. On several occasions he's told me that he's so lucky to have her in his life, and I'm sure we'd all agree. Especially all the single women out there, am I right? Anyway...something I've learned over the years is that love isn't supposed to be easy. There's going to be complications and struggles and anger and if you're meant to be together, you will find a way. So Howard and Bernadette, cheers to you. You found a way."
This earned a round of applause, and gave Penny another reason to burst into tears. She felt like such an idiot. Why was Raj making so much sense today? It wasn't supposed to be easy. Maybe she was being too hard on Sheldon. Maybe it was all her fault. But then she drank more champagne and got over it.
Howard got up to say something, but Raj caught the eye of someone across the room and quickly said, "Oh, um, a friend of mine would like to perform a song for Penn--for Howard and Bernadette. If you'll please direct your attention to the piano behind you."
Penny didn't even see a piano when she arrived. But there it was, at the very back of the hall against the wall. And of course Sheldon was sitting there, why wouldn't he be?
Sheldon cleared his throat. He started touching the keys, and a very familiar song started playing. Then he started singing and Penny literally died. Yes, literally. Okay, maybe not literally.
"Don't go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore
I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are..."
And he continued the song and Penny stared at him, every emotion she could possibly have running through her head. Pride. Love. Happiness. Anger. Joy. Frustration. But the one thought that pulsated the hardest was, Oh, shit, I'm going to have to reject him and everybody's going to hate me. It's not like her heart wasn't bursting at the seams. It's not like she didn't recognize the fact that he hated public displays of affection and everyone's attention on him was probably agonizing. Penny hoped he had some kind of alcoholic beverage to aid in this grand gesture he was making.
But what Sheldon was doing...it was huge. It was amazing. She wanted nothing more than to sit in his lap and tell him everything was going to to be okay. But it still wasn't what Penny wanted. It wasn't what she needed. It was too...easy. Sheldon couldn't think that all he needed to do was sing someone else's words and she'd fall in his arms. It couldn't happen that way. If she took him back now, he'd never learn.
So when it was over and he got a standing ovation, Penny marched over to him, looking like a bull in a china shop. He was going to say something and Penny was probably going to want to kiss (or kill) him, so instead she said, "Thank you. That was beautiful."
"So I trust that means you will give me another chance?" Ugh, his eyes were so blue. Why did his eyes have to be so blue?
"No? Penny, I..." The great Dr. Sheldon Cooper was suddenly at a loss for words. She wanted to help him, but he was a big boy. So she sat next to him for a minute and waited to see if he'd say the only three words she wanted to hear. At least everyone in the hall had stopped staring at them and were now anxiously awaiting the cake.
"Just tell me what you want to hear," Sheldon finally said. "I give up. I don't know what to say."
"Tell me what you're feeling, Sheldon. It's not that hard."
He stammered and shrugged. Apparently it was that hard.
"It's not enough. I need more. I'm sorry." Penny got up, took another glass of champagne and walked outside. None of this was what she wanted. This was Bernadette's day and Penny was ruining it. She'd never felt so selfish in her life. And she had a feeling that using the excuse of getting her heart broken was not acceptable. So Penny gave herself ten minutes to have a pity party and then go back inside and get over it. Dance with Leonard. Have more to drink. Participate in the dance contest. Whatever it took to make her feel normal again.
Outside, she leaned on an unoccupied car and exhaled. She saw one of the valet dudes checking her out. He was smoking, and it suddenly looked very appealing to her. Penny stopped smoking after she moved to California, but as a teenager, it was one of her favorite vices. Every now and then she'd borrow a cigarette and relive her teenage years for some temporary stress relief.
"Hey, dude, you got a cigarette on you?"
"For you, I've got a whole pack," he said, and she smiled, and she hated him, and she wished Sheldon was out there with her.
"Just one or two will be sufficient, thank you." The valet handed her a few cigarettes and she walked away, lest he thought he was going to get any kind of coherent conversation out of her. She kept a lighter in her purse for such occasions. It was an old lighter; her father gave it to her when she was 15 and he caught her smoking in the garage. Like he was proud or something.
Penny sat down on the steps, crossing her legs carefully. She inhaled and exhaled and wondered what the hell she was going to do now. Really, her life wasn't that bad-her career was starting to take off, she found a lot of accomplishment and pride in her writing, she had good friends, she was making a lot more money than she'd ever seen before. And when she got home from this godforsaken wedding, she'd give Todd a call. He was a nice guy. Even if he wasn't Sheldon. Even if his kiss didn't make her stomach do somersaults like Sheldon's did. Even if she knew she'd never love him as much as she loved that idiot nerd of hers. Why the hell did she love that guy, anyway?
Well, he was adorable, for starters. Cute. Sometimes just plain hot. He challenged her; taught her new things every day. And he was open to learning from her, too. She taught him how to be open to different experiences. How to be sociable and relate to people. They taught each other. There was that whole amazing kisser thing. And the sex...it was so unique. Everything he knew about sex, he learned from her. So every move he made was practically tailored to her body and her needs and wants. Oh, she missed that. It had been way too long. Maybe she should go back inside and find him...
But Penny was stubborn and if Sheldon couldn't open himself up and give her some honest truth, she wasn't going to let him back into her life. It couldn't have been so hard just to tell her that--
"Penny. I miss you."
And there he was again. He'd taken off his tie and his jacket and looked completely disheveled and oh my god, she loved him so much.
"What-what did you just say?" She knew what he said. But she wanted him to say it again.
"I miss you. Isn't that what you want to hear? Because it's the truth. I miss you. Now, do you have another one of those cigarettes?"
"Why? You don't smoke, Sheldon."
"Not anymore, no. My sister and I used to sneak my mom's cigarettes out of her purse--it was our only shared vice. I didn't like it that much, but Missy did and I wanted to make her happy. Plus, we're from a small town, it's what people do when they're bored."
"Same here. Me and my brother."
They both kind of nodded, acknowledging another thing they had in common; something else to link them together.
"Sometimes, in stressful situations, I can still smell the smoke. And I crave a cigarette more than anything else in the world. But I'm above cravings. Cravings aren't scientific. I have no use for them. But I want one more than anything right now."
She handed him one and lit it for him. They both took a puff and exhaled. Penny had to admit he looked kinda hot smoking like that. She did like her bad boys.
"So, Penny, I have to admit that I am at a complete loss here. I thought blunt honesty would do the trick. It didn't. I thought taking a risk and making an ass out of myself in front of all our friends would do the trick. It didn't. Apparently what you want is an honest exchange of feelings, and I am willing to give that to you, even though it makes me rather uncomfortable."
She touched his arm. "Sheldon, don't tell me anything that isn't true. Please. I can't take it."
"I would never do that. I'm a lot of things, Penny, but I'm not a liar. Okay, I've lied about a few things before, but never my feelings. So here it is." Sheldon exhaled again, and Penny waited patiently.
"While I was hesitant at first to welcome you to our social circle, I have come to embrace and accept and appreciate you as a person and as a friend, even if I was completely baffled by you and your inane chatter about shoes. As time went by, I found myself wanting more than just friendship, but I didn't know how to proceed. I am not familiar with normal social conventions and romantic attachments, so I distanced myself instead. And then a few months ago, on your birthday, you revealed some very personal things regarding how you felt about me. And I was relieved, because I felt the same way. Now, Penny, I don't believe in the concept of soul mates. But I do believe that we are in each other's lives for a reason. And as I told you from the beginning, being with you would be like breathing."
"Okay, but Sheldon-"
"Please, let me finish. This is hard enough without you interrupting me."
Penny scoffed, but shut up. Because the words coming out of his mouth were like music to her soul.
"I know if I want to be with you, I have to do things I'm not entirely comfortable with, like actually telling you my emotions instead of feeling like you already know them. I will sometimes have to engage you in talk about shoes and go with you to the mall and watch tragically terrible reality shows starring people with names like Snooki. I'll have to hold your hand in public. And that's okay, because I've come to the conclusion that I can't live without you in my life. This past month has been unbearable, even if I had made amazing strides in my work. So here it is: I'm sorry I was such an ass to you, I was terrified of how important you've become to me. To my life. I've missed you. Without you, I'm homesick. Oh, and seeing you with Todd made me very, very angry and jealous and for the first time, I wanted to challenge another man to a brawl with my fists."
"Again, I'm not finished. Penny...Penny, I love you. I was unsure of what that meant until just recently, but I understand now. I love you, and I want you in my life, and I'm sorry for the pain I've caused you for the last month, and if this is not acceptable to you, I have nothing else to offer."
Penny didn't know whether to laugh or cry. So she did both. And she hugged him, and she kissed him and he kissed her back and it was so amazing to feel his lips on hers again. Maybe she should have played it cool, but she didn't have it in her. He finally figured out what she wanted, and Penny was ecstatic.
"Thank you, sweetie. That's what I needed from you. I love you, too. I love you so much. And I will try harder, too. I won't bother you at work, and if you need extra space, I'll give you as much as you need." There was so much more to say, but they'd have plenty of time for that later. All she wanted now was to touch him and be touched by him.
He folded her into his arms-he was so tall and warm and comforting and she could completely lose herself in his embrace. They stood like that for a long time. Penny could see the valet staring at them out of the corner of her eye. He was probably just jealous he didn't have someone he loved as much as Sheldon and Penny loved each other.
For a moment, wrapped up in his arms like that, Penny thought about how just a few months ago, she wanted to live in that alternate universe where she didn't have a crush on Sheldon. And how much everything had changed since then. Raj could talk to girls now. Howard and Bernadette were married and Howard finally agreed to find a new place to live instead of making Bernadette live with him and his scary mother. Leonard had a girlfriend who was just as geeky as he was, but who also respected and loved and appreciated all the things that made Leonard who he was. And Penny wasn't up there with Julia Roberts yet, but she was on her way. Baby steps. The biggest thing? She no longer had a crush on Sheldon...she loved Sheldon. And he loved her. Everything was different. Everything was better. And she and Sheldon were in this thing together.
Snapping back to reality, Penny had a thought. "Hey, you know, this place has hotel rooms. We could get one."
Sheldon contemplated. Penny knew he was thinking about all the germs a hotel room bed contained, but he was probably also pondering getting her naked and showing how much he really missed her. That was what she had in mind, anyway.
"Let's go," he said. She kissed him again, excited about all the kissing they were about to do. It was probably impolite to just bail on Howard and Bernadette's wedding reception, but they'd understand. Probably. Hopefully.
At the check-in desk while they waited in line, Sheldon leaned down and whispered in her ear, "I love you."
"I know," she said, and kissed him again.
They were just about to get to the front of the line at the check-in when Amy found them. All Penny wanted was to get Sheldon naked and show him how much she missed him over the last month, but she supposed it was a good thing they got caught by Amy. The sex would have been amazing, but the freak-out afterwards when Sheldon didn't have his toothbrush or pajamas would probably not have been worth it.
"Hello, outlaws. I'm very happy you've mended your relationship and I know I'm probably interrupting the inevitable make-up coitus that you were about to indulge in, but it's time for pictures. We need you two. You can have plenty of deviant sex when you get home."
Sheldon and Penny looked at each other and shrugged. As they walked behind Amy like criminals, Sheldon took Penny's hand like it was the most natural thing in the world. She grinned up at him (she was going to have to get a neck brace if this relationship was going long-term), so very happy to be back by his side, so glad the games were over and they made it through the storm, not entirely unscathed but ready to rise up to the challenge of their differences.
So many pictures. Just the bridesmaids, just the groomsmen, everybody now, now just the happily married couple. With every picture, Penny's smile was big and bright and real, because damn it, she was happy. And soon this would all be over and she and Sheldon would spend hours in her bedroom and she couldn't wait. To feel his lips on hers. To touch him everywhere; all those body parts she missed. To feel him inside her again.
When Penny and Sheldon were in a picture together, he was always touching her. And as soon as the bulb in the camera went off, he'd whisper something in her ear. Sometimes dirty. Sometimes sweet. She'd giggle and everyone would turn around and look at them and smile because it was young love and they were so cute and they had to quit being so adorable because this was Howard and Bernadette's day and Sheldon and Penny were starting to outshine them on the cuteness scale.
Finally every combination of pictures had been taken and it was time for this wedding to end. Penny was fascinated by what a complete mess she was when this wedding started and how happy she was by the end of it. Maybe that wasn't exactly healthy. Maybe she shouldn't have looked at Sheldon like he was the answer to all her problems. But on that particular day, that's how she felt. And it was okay, because he felt the same way.
Penny gave Bernadette a big hug and said, "The wedding was beautiful and you are a stunning bride. I am so happy for you!" Even though Penny had grown somewhat fond of Howard, she was still rather confused by why anyone, especially one of her closest friends, wanted to marry him. But she was still happy for the two of them because they were convinced they found everlasting love. And that, Penny had just realized, was really, really hard.
"Thank you, Penny. And I'm so happy you and Sheldon made up. I always thought from the beginning that you two were meant to be."
"Really? That is so sweet of you. Now, listen, I hope you two kids have fun tonight. I know your mother never gave you the talk, so if you have any questions..."
"Oh, hush. And if anyone needs the talk, it's you and Sheldon about an hour from now."
They both giggled. One last hug, and Bernadette was swept away by her family for more congratulations. Amy took Penny and Sheldon and Leonard and Veronica home, and because of the lack of space in Amy's tiny car, Penny had to sit on Sheldon's lap. Which neither of them minded. And Penny got a free preview of what was happening in Sheldon's pants, and she couldn't wait to get him alone.
Penny and Sheldon both wanted the inevitable ravaging of each other to start as soon as possible, but they retreated to their seperate apartments first to take a shower and change and eat and take a breather for a few minutes. By the time Sheldon knocked on Penny's door, she was almost climbing up the walls in anticipation. 43 days was a long time to go without the touch of the man she loved. She knew, because she spent almost the entirety of those 43 days thinking about it and missing it.
She opened the door on the second knock just to throw him off and grabbed his hand and led him into her bedroom. Sheldon didn't protest. It was pretty much agreed and unspoken that they needed to get this part over with, and soon. Not that she didn't want kisses and foreplay and touching and talking, but there would be plenty of time for that. It was Saturday night. Neither of them had anywhere to be until Monday morning.
They undressed each other quickly and collapsed on the bed in a pile of limbs and nakedness. Penny desperately wanted to take charge; the big 'ol five and all, but she wanted to see what Sheldon would do when he was really, really horny.
Apparently, Sheldon was proactive when he was really, really horny. He was on top of her in seconds. Any kind of insecurity or hesitance he might have had from the beginning was non-existent now. This Sheldon was confident and intense and sort of dangerous, and Penny was head over heels in love with him. Sometimes she was overwhelmed by his passion for her. And intrigued by the fact that everything he did in bed was for her. He'd never been with anybody else; never wanted to be with anyone else. Every move he made was because he knew Penny wanted it that way. She found this to be beautiful and poetic and it turned her on and she just wanted to scream and/or cry with the crazy emotions of it all. She was so fucked. Literally.
He slid a finger inside and she smiled at him in a hungry, ready kind of way. Penny knew she was wet. And Sheldon liked it when she was wet for him. So without any kind of discussion, which was actually kind of unusual for him, he slid into her roughly and she bit her lip to keep from screaming. Penny was the kind of girl that made everyone in the vicinity of her bedroom need noise cancelling headphones. A fact Sheldon knew all too well, from both sides of the equation.
They both needed this. They needed the connection and the pace and the rhythm and the orgasms, of which Penny had many. Penny knew he needed her to touch his face and bite his nipple and grab his ass and pull him deeper into her. And Sheldon knew Penny needed him to play with her clit a little while he was on top, and she needed her collarbone kissed, and she liked it when he pulled her hair and spanked her when he was in her from behind. All of these things happened in a matter of minutes, and they were lost in a sea of limbs and sweat and lips and tongues and hair and breasts and fingers. They needed it.
Afterwards, they lay intertwined, out of breath, laughing, whispering, kissing.
"I love you."
"I...love you, too. But you already knew that."
"Yes, I did. But it's nice to hear it again." Penny knew he wasn't going to be the type of guy who said it 15 times a day and she'd have to be okay with that. When he said it, it meant more. And besides, she knew he loved her. It was everywhere. In his touch, in his eyes, in his voice. She didn't need to hear it all the time to know it was true.
For a moment, she thought about how ironic it was that her relationship with Leonard ended because she couldn't say she loved him, and now her relationship with Sheldon almost ended because he couldn't say it to her. It was such a messy triangle of emotions but after it was all said and done, everybody ended up with who they were meant to be with from the start. Veronica was Leonard's academic, physical, and emotional equal. Penny was glad he found someone who could love him as much as he deserved. It just wasn't her. Thank goodness.
There was still so much more to say, but Penny was exhausted. She started this day thinking she'd never be happy again, and she ended it in bed next to the man she loved. It was a long, long day. So after Sheldon took a quick shower and brushed his teeth and got into his Saturday pajamas, they fell asleep, both satisfied, both happy, both terrified of what the future held for them next.
When Penny woke up from the best night of sleep she'd had in more than a month, the other side of the bed was empty. Sheldon was not the type to linger in bed after he woke up, so he could be anywhere by now. But she smelled bacon and was pretty sure she could pinpoint his exact location-her kitchen.
Penny put on some semblance of clothing so she didn't go into the kitchen naked and sat down on her stool, watching him cook. He looked so intense, like this was the most important thing he was going to accomplish all day.
"Good morning, Penny. I thought we'd start our day with a nice and tasty breakfast, and then we'll watch those Farscape DVDs you have hidden in the back of your closet. I'll retrieve my laptop and do some work, and perhaps you can do the same with the novel you have probably inevitably abandoned by now."
"I wouldn't say 'abandon', more like...'paused'. And although you are very bossy and have already made a schedule for our day without informing me, I think it sounds lovely." She was somewhat delighted that he had no plans to leave her apartment and they were going to spend the entire day together. It had been way too long since the last time that occurred.
The day went exactly as Sheldon planned. Although frequently they'd pause the DVD and talk and make out and eat ice cream. Penny really enjoyed the talking; Sheldon was actually a really fascinating person when he wasn't bragging or giving someone a lesson or whatever. They talked about what was happening on Game of Thrones and how much Penny was enjoying her new, legitimate acting career. He told her about his work; how hard he'd worked in the past month to show the people in charge how serious he was about the project.
"They know I'm on a mission now. And I've accomplished a great deal more in the past month than everyone else who has worked on this project over the years. Next month, supposing that you and I aren't ridden with the flu at the time, I'd like to finally take that trip to Switzerland with you. My research will be greatly enhanced by this field of study."
Penny grinned. "I would love to go with you! That will be so romantic."
"Penny, you know that I won't have time-" She silenced him with a kiss.
"Don't finish that sentence, sweetie. Because I know you won't have time, but we'll be there together, and that is romantic enough for me." Again. she couldn't help but think of the romantic trip she was supposed to take with Leonard to Switzerland. Well, she was going with the right person this time.
He nodded and the tiniest hint of a smile overcame his adorable face. "Come here, please."
They were sitting on her couch, as usual. She was practically sitting in his lap already, the couch was so small. "Come where?" She asked, trying to sound sexy and flirtatious at the same time.
"Here," he said simply. Sheldon liked Penny on his lap. And she liked to be on his lap. So she gently placed herself there, and his lips were instantly on hers like he had a snakebite and her mouth was the antidote. He released one of the straps from her top and took a few seconds to admire the curve of her breast. She moaned when he licked her nipple with determination; he was ready and he wanted her to be ready, too.
Before long, they were in the bedroom again (Sheldon refused to have sex on her couch). And this time, it was much slower. So much more foreplay. Penny had put her iPod on the speakers in her room and found that she kind of dug making out with him while Radiohead was playing in the background. It made the situation that much more intense.
Sheldon took his time. He just rearranged her shorts and cami instead of taking them off. He wanted to explore every inch of exposed skin, and this was making Penny crazy. Bat shit insane crazy. Especially when he pulled aside her panties and stuck his tongue inside her in one quick move. She hadn't expected it and in return cried out loudly.
"Oh! Sheldon! Damn it, where did you learn that?"
"I know things," he said from between her thighs. "Now hush." And he continued, and he licked and sucked and his fingers were everywhere and he was gentle and not so gentle and it was the most indescribable pleasure she'd ever experienced.
After she'd exploded in this ridculous symphony of orgasms, she pushed him down on the bed, and he didn't protest. Penny took his dick out and gave him an award-winning blowjob. Her lack of a gag reflex that got her into so much trouble seemed to make Sheldon go a little bit bonkers. He made sounds Penny had never heard before and wasn't even sure could be registered on the decibel scale.
When she knew he was good and ready, Penny got on top of him and he gasped a little. He reached up to play with her breasts and together they breathed and moand and groaned and it was good and great and amazing and mind-blowing. When they'd gotten enough of that, they shifted and Sheldon was on top. He stared into her eyes and his rhythm this time was slow and sweet. It was like he wanted to savor every moment.
"Does this feel good?"
"Oh, my god, Sheldon, nothing has ever felt better in my entire life."
"I'm glad. Because it's important to me that you know...that you know how much this means to me. That you want me here. That you trust me this much. There's no one else in the world I'd ever feel comfortable doing this with, and...you should just know that."
"I do, honey. I know that. I feel the same way. Thank you for believing in me, and in us. Thank you for not giving up."
And then she shrieked because he was so deep inside her and fuck, it just felt so fucking good. He knew how to fill her up just right; make her scream, make her cry out in ecstasy.
And when it was over, she couldn't help but wonder...how could it always be like this? How could they possibly maintain this kind of passion? Wouldn't he get bored with her eventually? Wouldn't she ever just want to throttle him after he told her the origin of ketchup for the 15th time? Penny was pretty sure all of those things were going to happen, and many times. But now, for the first time, she realized that was okay. They were going to get through this together. They'd get through the orgasms and the long talks and the secret smiles just as well as they'd get through the fights about his spot, the right kind of soy sauce he wanted for his Thai food and his ridiculous pajama rotation. She'd deal with his late nights at work and he'd deal with her fascination regarding shoes and people named Kardashian. Why? Because they were stupid and in love and it was all going to be okay.
Meanwhile, on top of her, Sheldon was about to come. She knew that look on his face well. So she clenched herself around him and made him gasp and then it was over. For now. Because this was just the beginning, and it was all going to be okay.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Penny could get used to this.
Heaps of mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, tender ham, yams, buttery asparagus, warm rolls straight from the oven...Sheldon's family celebrated Christmas in style. Back home in Nebraska, they were ordering pizza or eating a freshly murdered turkey or something. Penny was happy right where she was.
"You better get some extra potatoes, girl. You're looking tiny." Missy told Penny as she stuffed her face. Penny was sitting next to Missy, who was not looking tiny at all, being eight months pregnant. Missy had gotten married a year before and wanted to start popping out babies as soon as possible.
"I'm not that tiny," Penny said. "Plus, the camera adds ten pounds, remember. And at least I'm not as chubby as you right now."
Missy giggled. Penny was glad she and Missy were close enough that she could make those kinds of stupid jokes. Missy was just happy Sheldon found himself a girl who loved him as much as he needed and deserved. His whole family was.
"Now, Penny, when are we going to get you in a similar state? We want lots of little grandbabies running around the house." Meemaw asked, trying to look innocent. Penny laughed.
"One step at a time there, Mrs. Cooper. We're not even engaged yet." About that. Penny was patient. She knew Sheldon liked to take things slow. However, there was obviously a part of her that wondered if it would ever happen. Maybe they'd be like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. No, wait, they broke up. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. That would be okay with her. Probably. Maybe.
Sheldon cleared his throat. "Meemaw, please don't harass Penny about her womb availability at the dinner table. Or any other time. We'll get there when we get there."
"Now you hush, Moonpie. This is a conversation between us girls."
"Yes, Meemaw," Sheldon said, looking properly rebuffed. Penny giggled and nudged him.
She was sitting in between Missy and Sheldon, who kept trading insults back and forth like she wasn't even there. It reminded her of back home a little, but she and her brother were a lot more brutal. Penny's brother's favorite trick was to pour Dr. Pepper on her head. You'd think she would be able to anticipate it by now, but he still caught her by surprise every time.
Penny had taken Sheldon to Nebraska for Thanksgiving. She was terrified as to how he'd get along with her family...she was about as intellectual as it got among her parents and siblings. Imagine her surprise when she woke up one morning to find Sheldon and her father taking turns shooting at targets with a shotgun together.
"I'm from Texas, we're assigned a gun in utero," Sheldon told her father. Penny's father laughed and laughed and Sheldon was accepted into the family just like that. It was almost too easy.
"Penny, Shelly told us about a new TV show you're working on. That's exciting! What can you tell us about it?" Mary asked in her Texas accent that Penny was learning to adore. Nebraskans just didn't have a fun accent like that. When Sheldon got really angry or confused or tired, his accent came out of hibernation and Penny loved it.
"Oh, well, it's actually a pilot I wrote myself. I'm not sure if it'll get picked up but I've gotten a lot of buzz about it recently. It would be great if it happened."
"Well, we'll certainly be praying for you, dear. Won't we, Shelly?"
Mary winked at Penny and they both chuckled. It was just so much fun to mess with Sheldon.
"If anyone cares, I got my Nobel Prize application in the mail last week," Sheldon said proudly. "I'm on a very short list of candidates."
"We know, Moonpie, you've told us about ten times already. You know how proud we are of you, baby. You'll get that prize. Nobody deserves it more than you do." Meemaw looked at her grandson adoringly.
Sheldon beamed. Penny kissed him on the cheek, pride deep in her bones.
Things had been going well for the two of them lately. Sheldon wasn't exactly a shoo-in for the Nobel Prize and his experiment wasn't producing the groundbreaking results he originally anticipated. But he was still making huge strides in the field of Physics. Physicists around the world were fascinated by what he was doing; he was basically a rock star in his field these days. When he and Penny were at a movie theater a few weeks ago, someone actually asked for Sheldon's autograph. And then an hour later, someone else asked for Penny's autograph. It was a good day.
Game of Thrones had been a huge stepping stone for Penny's career and she even had her own IMDB page now, but she wasn't making Julia Roberts-type of movies yet. So Penny, with Sheldon's enthusiastic encouragement, decided to take the bull by the horns and write her own TV show. It was loosely based on her screenplay about a girl from Nebraska who moves to California. But funnier.
So they weren't famous millionaires yet but they were getting there. As far as their relationship...they were taking that slow, too. They were both so busy that when they did actually get to see each other, it was like a breath of fresh air. Maybe a long time ago, Penny wouldn't have been okay with that. But she always remembered what Raj told her. That they should both try to succeed as much as possible in their careers and be there for each other when they could be, and then when things settled down, they would still be there. And that was okay with her, at least for now. As long as she was working as an actress and making money and keeping up with her writing and still managed to see Sheldon as much as they could make it happen, Penny was satisfied with her life. Fulfilled. Happy.
After dinner and dessert, and after the dishes were washed and put away and the Christmas tree lights were turned off and Sheldon hugged all the women in his family and said good night, Penny and Sheldon stayed in the kitchen and finally exchanged their Christmas gifts. For Sheldon, Penny got him a fancy Star Trek watch that cost her the equivalent of about a month's worth of work at the Cheesecake Factory. For Penny, Sheldon got her a GPS for the car (they'd gotten lost on a road trip to San Francisco a few months ago and it caused one of the most dramatic arguments of their entire relationship) and tickets to see Radiohead in Los Angeles in February. She shrieked and hugged him and would have made out with him on the spot if they were anywhere else but his mother's house.
"I have something else for you," Sheldon said, suddenly looking very nervous. "You might not like it. You can take it back if you don't like it."
Penny smiled. This sounded intriguing. "Okay, lay it on me."
Sheldon cleared his throat a few times and then he was on his knees before she could even blink. Penny gasped and put her hands on his shoulders in front of her. From his pocket, he produced a tiny box and they both knew what it contained. Penny literally stopped breathing. Okay, not literally. But almost.
"Sheldon! What did you do?"
"Penny...before I met you, I was perfectly content to be alone. I had science and my routines and my spot and I didn't think I needed anything else. But then you came along and you sang Soft Kitty to me when I was sick and made me spaghetti with cut-up hot dogs and you were always there for me when I needed you and sometimes when I didn't even know I needed you. And while I still find your love for shoes to be rather baffling, and while you sometimes sit in my spot just to annoy me, and while I still don't really 'get' Radiohead...I realized some time ago that I can't see my future without you in it. I want you there beside me when I get the Nobel Prize. And I want to walk down red carpets with you at movie premieres and watch as the paparazzi take a million pictures of you, because you earned it. And I don't know what I did to deserve you, and if I was a praying man like my mother wishes I was, I'd thank God that you love me the way you do. I've experienced things with you that I didn't even know existed. And I never want to stop. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, Queen Penelope, will you marry me?"
He opened the little box and in it was a ring so beautiful and so...her that she almost had to wonder if he took Amy or Leonard with him when he bought it. Sheldon was a lot of things, but adept in the art of jewelry was not one of them. Not that it mattered. She would have loved any damn ring he put on her finger.
"Oh, my god, Sheldon, yes! Of course I'll marry you!" And now she was crying, and he was putting the ring on her finger, and they were kissing, and there was a whole hoard of giggling women behind the door to the kitchen.
"You can come in now," Sheldon said happily.
Meemaw and Mary and Missy came storming into the kitchen and took turns hugging Penny and shrieking with utter delight.
"It's about time someone made an honest man out of him," Mary said, wiping tears from her eyes. "Thank you, Penny. We love you. And Shelly loves you."
"Thank you!" Penny said. She was thankful her mascara was waterproof. "Thank you for creating this guy for me."
"Well, God created him, I just helped," Mary said, pinching Sheldon's cheeks like he was five years old.
"Okay, well, if all the women in this house are done with this ceremony of womanhood, I'd like to go to bed," Sheldon said, sounding annoyed but looking ecstatic. He was happy. Penny was overjoyed that she helped make him that way.
"Please, be my guest. And I suppose since you have that ring on your finger, I will allow the two of you to sleep in the same bed. But God is watching you." Mary smiled, and then took Meemaw and Missy and her huge belly out of the kitchen.
"I can't believe it," Penny said softly.
"I can't either. Are you happy?"
"Very happy, sweetie. I can't wait to start our lives together." He gave her a kiss and they walked hand in hand to the bedroom, where no hanky panky would be taking place because God was watching and Sheldon's mother was listening.
She turned and looked at him for a moment, taking him all in. Wearing his Flash shirt, even to Christmas dinner. His dark hair, his crystal blue eyes, his delicious lips. This was the man Penny loved, and had loved for a long time. Yes, he drove her crazy at first. Yes, she used to just think of him as her boyfriend's crazy roommate. But he somehow forced himself into her heart and she was never the same. Never wanted to be the same. And now they were going to have little genius babies and have Christmas at their house someday and they were going to grow old together and Penny couldn't imagine growing old with anyone else but him. What was once a silly crush that Penny had was now everything she ever wanted. And as they lay back to back (neither of them were sleep cuddlers; that was a no-no from the beginning and something they both actually agreed on thoroughly) and she could feel the weight of him against her, Penny closed her eyes and smiled. This was her life. Her future husband. Her career. Her wants and dreams and desires. Her Sheldon.
That's it! Thank you for reading. Any comments/feedback/concrit totally welcomed and appreciated.