She doesn't wear a costume. A radioactive spider never bit her. Penny doesn't have a secret identity or a batcave. In many ways, she's still just Penny, the girl from across the hall who works at The Cheesecake Factory and wants to be an actress.
But sometimes, she's pretty sure she's like a superhero. Or something.
At some point, she stops counting the number of times she's had to swoop in and save the day for her geeky guy friends. Well, mostly just Sheldon.
This time it's a Friday night when her superpowers get activated.
She's just coming up the last few steps when Sheldon and Leonard exit their apartment. Both are dressed up, or at least their version of dressed up.
"Hey guys, what's with the suits?"
Leonard adjusts the cuff of his blazer as he responds, "We have to go to a reception at CalTech for some very important donors."
Sheldon, as usual, looks less than happy about this event. "Yes, once again, Dr. Gablehauser has forced us into a social obligation in which we're forced to explain our work to wealthy people who think neutrinos are something you eat for breakfast."
Penny shrugs even though he's right. Neutrinos sound exactly like something she'd pour milk over. But then they would probably be spelled Neutrin-o's.
"Well, have fun… or good luck… or, well, Sheldon, try not to piss too many people off."
She smiles brightly as she walks around them but stops in her tracks when she notices something that just isn't right.
"AAAH, SHELDON, wait!"
Sheldon freezes at the top of the stairs and slowly turns to look back at her. "What?"
"Your pants, sweetie. There's a hole in them."
He starts bending himself at the waist trying to look all around and behind him, but he's so tall he can't quite see it. And he looks ridiculous. Penny tries not to laugh as she steps forward and points right at his left hip where the seam has detached from the pocket.
"Right there. It's coming apart."
"Well, don't you have another suit you can change in to? Maybe something… less plaid."
Sheldon stares at her as if she just asked him whether Jesus ever rode a dinosaur. "Why would I have another suit? I rarely wear this one and therefore have no need for a SECOND suit."
Penny crouches down and inspects the hole with her fingers, which makes Sheldon flinch. "I bet even Superman has a spare suit. For times just like this."
"Penny, Superman's suit is indestructible as long as he is on Earth. Why would he need a second one?"
She frowns and looks to Leonard who just nods his head. "He is right."
"Oookay, how about Batman? I know Batman must have a spare batsuit."
Sheldon looks down at her with a smirk while she waits for him to find the words to acknowledge that she's correct without actually saying, 'You're right'.
"That may well be."
There it is.
"However, this does not help my current situation since I don't have a second suit."
Penny stands up and puts her hands on her hips. "I can help."
Sheldon looks at her doubtfully, eyes blinking slowly. "How?"
"I can sew them back up really quick if you come with me."
She tilts her head in the direction of her apartment and then looks at Leonard. "You can go ahead, Leonard. It's probably not good for both of you to be late. I'll bring Sheldon over when I'm done."
"Are you sure?"
Penny ushers Sheldon into her apartment as Leonard departs. She quickly shuts the door behind them and jogs into her bedroom to grab her sewing kit. When she comes back, Sheldon is standing near the door, as still as can be.
The next four words out of her mouth is something she never thought she'd say in combination with each other.
"Okay, Sheldon, pants off."
She's pretty sure his voice raises three octaves in response. "What?"
Penny can't help but laugh and part of her wonders if Sheldon has ever heard that from a woman before. Judging by his reaction, probably not.
"You have to take your pants off so I can sew them. So… pants off, please."
"Because if I try to fix them while they're on you, I'll stab you with my needle."
She's tempted to run over there and take them off herself, but figures that would put him in a coma.
"I've seen you with your pants off before. The first day we met. Now, take them off and hand them over."
"Fine. But, don't watch."
She might just stab him with her needle anyway.
Penny makes a huff of disapproval but just to shut him up puts her hands over her eyes. When she hears the sound of his zipper, she can't help but peek through her fingers just a little. She tries to mentally slap herself for that little compulsion, but it's too late. He's wearing white briefs like she remembers, and though they are hardly sexy, she finds the whole look awfully endearing.
Afraid to get caught, she seals her eyes back up tightly and doesn't open again until Sheldon tells her to. When she takes her hands away from her face, he's holding his pants with one hand and covering himself up with one of the large pillows from her couch with the other hand.
This time, she definitely laughs. Just a little. As she steps toward him to grab the pants, she says, "You're one of a kind, Sheldon."
He looks at her like it's the most obvious thing in the world. "Of course I am."
She sits at the end of her couch and digs through her sewing kit until she finds the right thread and needle. Sheldon shuffles over and takes a seat at the other end, still holding the pillow over him.
"I thought you knew how to sew. Like, for your costumes and stuff."
"With a sewing machine. I never mastered doing it by hand."
Her mind drops immediately in to the gutter at that last sentence, but she doesn't say a word. Sheldon would miss the joke anyway, she figures.
Penny is making quick work of repairing the seam and looks up at him with a grin. "I could teach you, you know. I used to work on the costumes for our high school plays all the time."
He looks a little baffled that there's something Penny could teach HIM, and she tries not to take that as an insult. "Perhaps…"
"So, I have a question…"
"If Superman's costume was indestructible, how did Mrs. Kent cut the fabric to make the costume in the first place? Did she have scissors made of kryptonite?"
Sheldon shifts in his seat a little, eyes rolling in his head as he replies, "Oh sure, Martha Kent just hopped in the truck and drove down to the Smallville Wal-mart to pick up a pair of kryptonite scissors."
"Well, how else do you explain it?"
"Superman used his heat ray vision to cut the fabric for her."
"Ohhhh. That makes sense."
Her hands work as fast as they can and she can sense Sheldon staring at them with curiosity. Penny thinks he must be impressed by her mad skills. Yes, that's definitely it.
She snips off the end of the thread and tosses the pants into his lap. "There. All done."
He inspects her work and gives her a nod of approval. "Thank you, Penny."
"You're welcome. Now put them back on so we can go."
He gives her a sideways glance and she grabs the pillow nearest to her to put it over her face. "I won't look. I promise."
Whackadoodle is the first word that comes to mind. She hears him get up and once again she is unable to resist the urge to peek. She slides the pillow down just enough to look over it and sees that he is now facing away from her.
The pillow slides just a little bit more and she gets a good glimpse at his butt. It's always been there right between his legs and his back where it should be, but she's never taken the time to really look at it.
She waits for another mental slap because OH MY GOD THIS IS SHELDON'S BUTT AND IT'S ACTUALLY NOT HALF BAD. The slap never comes. She decides it's more than "not half bad". It's pretty damn good really. That man was full of surprises.
Penny shamefully buries her face in the pillow until she hears him say, "Okay, you can look now."
She lifts her face from the pillow and silently prays that Sheldon doesn't notice that she's probably blushing furiously. He doesn't. She makes an important mental note, nice butt AND he's completely oblivious.
"Okay, let's get going."
She grabs her keys and purse and for just a second is tempted to pat him on the butt to push him out the door. Instead, she puts her hands behind her back and promises herself to try and walk in front of him from now on.
It is months after this when Sheldon comes to her rescue after she falls in the shower. He saves the day and admits to peeking while helping her get dressed. What he doesn't realize is that she was the one who peeked first.
Sheldon is right. The hero always peeks.