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Suddenly There You Were

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The day Penny broke up with Leonard it surprised no one. Not even Leonard. Things between them had been, at best, pretty rocky, and like Penny said when she had sat him down. "We bring out the worst in each other like this."

And they both cried, because they did care about each other, and Penny drank a lot of wine, but in the end it was better; they were both better because of it.

At first things between her and the four boys had been somewhat tempestuous. Not that she had really expected them to choose her over Leonard, nor did she want them too, but there was definitely a coldness to their interactions with her. Except for Sheldon.

Sheldon had, in his very blunt yet cordial way, commended both Penny and Leonard for ending their relationship and finally "seeing the light." And while insulted, Penny couldn't help but feel a bit relieved that at least one person still treated her as he always had - in fact maybe better.

When she beat him in Halo, he still grumbled and glared, but he didn't run to his room, and after his pride recovered he would shout out helpful advice, much to the chagrin of everyone who wasn't her. Penny won hands down, and at the end, with her victory confirmed, when she yanked him into a hug, he didn't pull away like she was infected with a deadly virus. It was definitely progress.

 

+

 

When Penny finally got offered a role on a prime time medical drama, the boys threw her a congratulatory party - planned mostly by Bernadette, though with much unasked consultation from Sheldon.

It was a surprise, and when Penny opened the door to their apartment she almost cried. There were people from work, a few of her acting friends from previous jobs, even a few of the people she had met through Leonard and Sheldon, including Leslie Winkle and Dr. Stephanie. Raj had hugged her first, then Leonard, and she even felt compelled to give Howard a small hug.

And Sheldon, a person who hated physical contact as much as Penny loved it, even gave her one of his awkward hugs that lasted just long enough not to be weird, but enough that Penny knew Sheldon understood how important this moment had been to her.

Later, after way too many shots of tequila and quite a few rounds of RockBand, most of the guests had dispersed, save for Stephanie, who had disappeared with Leonard into his bedroom, and Raj, who was passed out, shirtless, behind the couch.

"Thanks for a great party, sweetie," Penny drunkenly slurred as he walked her across the hall, watching her giggle and stagger the entire 20 feet.

"You're quite welcome, Penny." Sheldon replied, grimacing when Penny lost her balance in her high heels and grabbed onto his shoulder to catch herself.

Once she had made it into the apartment (Sheldon had eventually unlocked the door after spending a good five minutes watching her try to unlock it with her mail key), and into her bedroom, she kicked off her shoes and crawled under the covers, jeans and all. It made Sheldon's jaw twitch, but he kept quiet in spite of it.

"Sheldon?"

"Yes, Penny?"

"Are you proud of me?" She looked up at him, standing in the doorway of her bedroom.

Sheldon's face twitched again, and he shifted from foot to foot. "Yes," he said finally, after a long moment. "It's quite an achievement." Penny eyed him wearily, waiting for a long list of how she had ruined his Tuesday night meals because she would longer be working at the Cheesecake Factory, or even the dreaded bazinga, but it never came, and she couldn't help but smile.

 

+

 

Knock. Knock. Knock.

"Penny?"

Opening her door, Penny found Leonard standing at her door, a six pack in his hand. Penny frowned. "Uh, hi Leonard."

"Sheldon locked me out," Leonard said, as Penny let him into the apartment. He set the beer down on her coffee table and sat down on the couch.

Penny laughed and shut her door. "He locked you out? What did you do now? Three strikes?"

Leonard smiled weakly and his hands were knotted in his lap, a nervous trait that Penny recognized instantly.

"What is it Leonard, just tell me?"

"I'm moving."

Penny's eyebrows shot up and her mouth dropped open. "Moving?"

Leonard nodded, opening one of the beers. "Yeah, Stephanie and I...we're...we're pretty serious now."

Penny smiled, and patted his shoulder. "I'm happy for you, Leonard." She sighed and sat back down on the couch. "So, I take it Sheldon isn't too happy about having to audition new roommates."

Leonard snorted, "That's putting it lightly. He told me that he'd rather sue me for breach of our roommate contract than find someone new."

"It's going to be strange," Penny said thoughtfully, "That's always been yours and Sheldon's apartment. It's hard to imagine it being anything else."

It was on their way to work the following morning when Leonard decided to tell Sheldon his idea. "You know," Leonard said, "Have you thought about the possibility of asking Penny to take my spot?"

Sheldon laughed, "Oh Leonard, that's not a possibility. In fact, there's a higher possibility that someone will actually develop teleportation."

Leonard rolled his eyes, "Sheldon, I'm serious, you spend just as much time with her as you do with me. She knows all of your ridiculous habits, and, just think, you would probably get a discount on your Tuesday barbecue burger."

It wasn't the most ridiculous thing Leonard had ever suggested; in fact he made quite a few valid points. The thought of having to retrain someone to his likes and dislikes, his routines and schedules, made Sheldon feel more nauseated than the idea that Penny might leave her undergarments hanging around the bathroom. At least he could pick those up without too much fuss from her.

So when he knocked on Penny's door that night and suggested that she move in, she was more than a little shocked.

"Are you high?" Penny asked, laughing as Sheldon stood uncomfortably at her front door.

"No, Penny, as hard as it may be for you to comprehend, I am not under the influence of a narcotic," Sheldon said, with an impatient sigh. "I've merely weighed my options, and it seems as though you are the best option since Leonard is leaving me no choice but to find a new roommate. Wolowitz will never move out of his mother's house, and Raj already said no."

Penny's laughter stopped short when she realized he was serious. Sheldon Cooper, one of the most neurotic and intelligent people she had ever met, the man who organized his underwear by day of the week, who did pretty much everything the opposite of her, was asking if she wanted to be his roommate?

"Oh honey, you're serious aren't you?" Penny asked, as she headed into her apartment. Sheldon followed, closing the door behind him.

Sheldon disdainfully pushed aside her discarded work clothes and sat down on his chair. "You know I like chocolate pudding better than all of the rest, you know that I eat oatmeal for breakfast on Mondays, you know where I keep my epinephrine in case I'm stung by a bee."

"Sheldon, just because I know those things about you doesn't mean I want to live with you." Penny poured herself a glass of wine, and drank it in one gulp, pouring herself another before walking back to the couch.

"Well, why not?" Sheldon asked incredulously. "You might not realize it, Penny, but I know just as much about you."

Penny raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Oh really?"

"I know that you can only eat General Tso's chicken with a fork because you once got a splinter in your tongue from the chopsticks, and that you still wear vanilla essential oil by The Body Shop despite the fact that Wolowitz has compared you to baked goods on more than one occasions, and that despite your incredible lack of knowledge regarding most canonical references to just about every comic book or television ever made, you still seem to be able to beat me at Rock-Paper-Scissor-Lizard-Spock, 2 out of 3 times."

Penny smiled, "You need to stop always picking Spock." She knew he was right though, he did know her well, in fact he knew her better than Leonard ever had. Still, it was Sheldon, and moving in with him would be an undertaking she wasn't sure she'd ever be ready for.

"I'll think about it, Sheldon."

Sheldon sighed, and rolled his eyes, "Fine, Penny, I will allow for some thought to go into this, but I'll need to know by Monday, so I can redraft the roommate agreement."

 

+

 

Despite her better judgment, Penny said yes.

They had been eating dinner, the five of them, and Howard had said something disgusting, like usual.

"I can't wait to live here so I can kick you out." Penny said, taking a bite of her spring roll. It was at this moment that any and all conversation in the room died as the four men stared at Penny as she continued to eat, not even noticing their glances.

Finally, Raj coughed, and Penny looked up, frowning at the faces she saw in front of her. "Okay, what?"

"I'm sorry, Penny, but you had not informed me that you were planning on accepting my proposal. Does this mean you've made up your mind?" Sheldon asked, his pad Thai balanced on his lap.

Penny shrugged, taking another bite of her food. "Yeah, I guess so, if the offer still stands."

"Oh good!" Sheldon said, standing up and walking to his desk. Reaching into his messenger bag he pulled out a very large 2-inch binder. "This, is our new roommate agreement, read it carefully, then sign and initial in every highlighted spot."

Penny's mouth dropped open. "You've got to be kidding me. Sheldon...that's...a lot of reading."

"You might want to get a lawyer to look at that," Leonard said, shaking his head at Sheldon.

Penny scowled and grabbed the binder from Sheldon, almost dropping it onto Howard's foot. "I'll read it, but if there's anything in here about ovums or French toast only on Sundays, we might have an issue."

 

+

 

Remarkably, Penny and Sheldon found it easier to slip into a routine than either of them thought possible. There hadn't been a huge change to the apartment since Penny moved in, though there were a few girly touches to the place that Sheldon had, under duress, eventually allowed. And while training her with chocolates was no longer an option, Sheldon found that it became much easier to just ask Penny to do something, and more often than not she would do it.

Sheldon was still as neurotic as ever, and Penny still dated jerks, who she would bring home at all hours of the night, stumbling as quietly as possible past Sheldon's door and into her bedroom. And the next morning, when Penny would kiss them goodbye, Sheldon would eye them disdainfully, but he always left his comments until after Penny closed the door. It wasn't ideal, but she was grateful for it all the same.

Though Leonard's presence was missed at many of the evening rituals, the new foursome found themselves not being opposed to their new schedules. They still ate Thai on Thursdays, and Cheesecake Factory on Tuesdays, though Penny often opted out of Tuesdays so as to avoid seeing her old co-workers.

Her new colleagues on the other hand, proved to be great friends, and Penny would often head to a bar or club with a few of the girls after a long day of filming.

"So," Sandra said, as the bartender lined up the shots in front of them. "Tell us out about your roommate?"

Penny rolled her eyes, once Sheldon had shown up to her work, having locked himself out of the apartment on his way down to take out the garbage. A task that he had assigned Penny. A task that she had failed to complete.

"What is there to know," she laughed, taking the shot. "He's just my roommate. I used to date his best friend."

Ellen raised her eyebrows, "But you haven't slept with him?"

"God, no. Sheldon?" Penny shook her head as if to rid herself of the visual image imprinted in her mind.

Sandra put her arm around Penny. "Darling, you eat dinner together almost every night. When you're not with us, you're with him and his friends, you do your laundry together, and you're not sleeping with him? Bullshit."

Penny laughed and quickly moved the topic of conversation to something else, but Sandra's words had stuck in her mind. She did do all those things with Sheldon, but she'd never even thought of Sheldon in that way. Granted, when she'd first met him she had thought he was attractive, but then he had opened his mouth and any of those feelings had immediately disappeared.

It was almost midnight by the time she arrived home, and Sheldon was still up, though dressed in his Wednesday pajamas, his warm milk next to his laptop as he read over some notes.

"Hello, Penny," he said, as she closed the door behind her, kicking off her shoes in all directions.

"Sorry I'm late," she said quietly, hoping that he wouldn't hear the way her words seemed to jumble together, regardless of how slow she tried to talk.

Sheldon turned and looked over at her from his desk chair. "You missed Halo night."

"I went out with some girls from work. Besides, wasn't Leonard coming over tonight to play? You already had four people."

"Yes, we had enough." Sheldon said, turning his attention back to his laptop.

Over the rest of the night, Penny had gotten considerably more intoxicated, but all of Ellen and Sandra's thoughts on her and Sheldon had managed to stay at the forefront of her mind. If she was honest with herself, and these moments usually occurred when she was drunk, she would admit that except for the sex or the physical contact, her and Sheldon had the same relationship she had once had with Leonard.

"Sheldon?" Penny was sprawled on the couch now, her head resting on the pillow on his spot.

"Yes?"

"Don't you ever get the urge to just be touched? Or to touch someone?"

Sheldon turned completely around in his chair and looked at Penny as though she was crazy. "Am I to assume that this ridiculous question stems from the fact that your affections were rejected by another one of your Neanderthal mating partners?"

Penny's jaw set and she grimaced at him. "No, I just mean, like, don't you ever want it?"

"Dear God, no." Sheldon said, looking as though just the thought would make him sick. "Besides the fact that most disease and infection is spread by human contact, I learned long ago to suppress those urges so I can focus on my work of proving string theory. How else do you think I got a master and two PhDs by the time I was 26? It certainly wasn't from wanting to be touched."

Penny shrugged and pulled herself up off the couch, "It was just a thought, sweetie. I mean, what are you going to do after you prove your string theory?" Penny didn't wait for an answer, she'd already heard as much as she needed. She had been right all along; whatever Sandra and Ellen thought they knew about her relationship with Sheldon, Penny knew better. Heading down the hall to her bedroom, she closed the door, causing a definite rattle throughout the apartment that left Sheldon puzzled.

 

+

 

The invitation came six months after Leonard moved out and Penny moved in. It was on pearl white embossed paper, with little silver hearts around the edge. Leonard Leakey Hofstadter and Stephanie Marie Barnett cordially invite you to the ceremony of their marriage.

"Do you think she's pregnant?" Penny asked Sheldon as she stood in their kitchen, reading the invitation that was now on their fridge.

"If she's not than Leonard is even less intelligent than I had already surmised." Sheldon replied, laughing quietly at his own joke.

Penny was happy for them, she really was, but she couldn't help but feel a bit melancholy over the fact that less than a year had passed since her and Leonard had been together. And although when they had been dating she had never really thought of spending the rest of her life with Leonard Hofstadter, she'd hadn't ruled it out either. This just made everything much for final.

The flight out of LAX to Newark was early the morning before the wedding, and Sheldon did his best to round up Penny as quickly as possible so they would have lots of time to meet Howard and Bernadette and Raj before boarding.

Sheldon, whose utter dislike of planes had been voiced very vocally over the last week, fidgeted in his chair next to Penny. She was still only half-awake, her sunglasses hiding the fact that she'd forgotten to put on any make up before Sheldon had all but shoved her out of the apartment.

"Sweetie, do you have to use the washroom? Because you're acting like a small child." Penny asked finally, the exasperation in her voice very apparent.

"No, I do not, Penny." Sheldon glared at her, and went back to watching something on his phone, his right foot still tapping nervously.

Penny reached out and stuck her hand on his knee, forcing him to stop. "If I remove my hand will you stop?" Sheldon nodded and pushed Penny's hand away from him. She could tell he was trying very hard not to start tapping again. "I know you're scared of flying, but I promise you, it will be quick and painless, and we'll be in New Jersey before you know it."

From the arrival of the invitation, Sheldon had announced that he wanted to either take the train or drive to New Jersey, as planes were definitely his least favorite mode of transportation. Luckily for everyone else, Penny won against him at Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock, and Sheldon would have to deal with the airplane.

Once the rest of them arrived it was a quick trip through customs and before Penny could once again reprimand him for fidgeting, they were boarding the plane.

"You know, the air is recycled in here," Sheldon muttered, as they got into their seats. "They don't even filter it, just keeps going around and around, spreading bacteria and God knows what else."

Howard and Penny exchanged annoyed glances and Howard held up the small bottle of his mother's Valium. Penny bit her lip to keep from laughing and shook her head. They weren't at worst case scenario yet.

"Sheldon, just take some deep breaths and relax," Penny said, rubbing his arm affectionately. This only succeeded in making Sheldon crankier and he pulled down the shade of the window. The less he had to see of how high up they were, the less likely he was to start hyperventilating.

After the take off, Sheldon's discomfort seemed to ease up, and Penny tried to get him to give her some clues as to what his speech for the reception would be like. As Leonard's Best Man, he had quite the responsibility on his shoulders.

"Penny, I know that you doubt my ability to write a speech, but I can assure you, I've had it proofread and edited, and it is perfectly suitable for a wedding reception."

Penny looked at him with one eyebrow raised. "You know that you can't insult anyone's intelligence? Or use the word coitus. Ever."

Sheldon ignored her and continued reading his magazine, much to Penny's chagrin, but he was however being quiet and not spouting off random disturbing facts about the airplane, so she'd take what she could get.

 

+

 

It's a beautiful wedding. One of the nicest that Penny had ever been to. The church, the flowers, it was all very moving, and Penny even cried a little when they said "I do". Raj held her hand, because he couldn't pat her on the back and tell her it was okay, but the hand worked.

At the reception, Penny watched Sheldon make his speech, which was odd and very Sheldon, but it was heartfelt and short, and they all clapped and toasted with wine in honor of Stephanie and Leonard.

Penny was on her third glass of champagne when Sheldon walked over. He had taken off his jacket, and his tie looked like it had been loosened. It was strange for her to see him this way, looking almost relaxed, and she wondered if Raj and Howard had been feeding him slutty Cuba Libres.

"Hi Sheldon," Penny said, as he sat down in Raj's empty chair. "Great speech,"

"Well thank you, Penny..." he paused and Penny waited for him to continue but he just sort of stuttered and started playing with his watch.

"Sheldon? Is there something you wanted to ask me?"

Sheldon sighed and looked over at her. "Not particularly, but Leonard threatened to steal my limited edition version of Halo 3 if I didn't ask you to dance."

Penny scowled and Sheldon stood up, and she could almost see his arm raising to protect his throat but he decided against it, instead he did something very un-Sheldon-like. He held out his hand. "Are you asking me to dance?"

"I'm asking you to dance."

Penny smiled and slid her hand into his, surprised at how warm his touch was. They stayed closer to the edge of the dance floor but Sheldon slipped one arm around her waist, the other holding her hand in his.

"It was a nice wedding," Penny said, as they swayed to the music. Despite vehemently stating that he was a horrible dancer, Sheldon did, surprisingly, have rhythm.

"I haven't been to many weddings to compare it too, but it was pleasant enough."

Penny laughed and rolled her eyes, patting Sheldon on the chest. "You know, I always wanted a beach wedding. The sand, the surf, flowers in my hair..."

"Penny, the chances of you having a wedding on the beach with optimal weather conditions are very slim. Especially with all these green-house gases, who knows what the weather will be like when you get married."

Penny took a step back and glared at Sheldon. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? Are you implying that I'm not going to be getting married for a long time?"

Sheldon's hand tightened slightly on her waist, "Penny, given the constant parade of men that have passed through our abode in the last nine months, do you really expect me to believe that you'll be, as they say "settling down", anytime soon?"

Penny ripped her hand out of Sheldon's grasp and pushed on his chest with two fingers. "You know what Sheldon, the next time Leonard goads you into doing something. Just say no."

The plane ride home was sullen and quiet, Penny had claimed the window seat and ignored Sheldon when he tried to tell her otherwise. Eventually he gave up, sitting awkwardly in the middle seat between her and Raj.

Not long after take off Penny fell asleep, and she was woken by Sheldon's hand on her arm, shaking her slightly. "What, Sheldon?" she asked, not bothering to open her eyes.

"I would like to apologize for what I said last night," he spoke quietly, and Penny turned her head to look at him. "I didn't mean to upset you like I did, I was just..." He paused when Raj squeaked and poked him hard in the arm. "I'm sorry, and I ask for your forgiveness."

Penny sighed, it wasn't like she could be that mad at him, he'd been completely and utterly right, despite how incredibly harsh his conclusions had been. "Thank you, sweetie. You're forgiven."

"You're welcome, now can I have the window seat back?"

 

+

 

To Sheldon's surprise, he wins the 2011 MacArthur Fellowship Award. He was one of 35 people being recognized that year, him specifically for the great strides he had made on proving the existence of string theory.

"I'm so happy for you, honey, I really am," Penny said, as she and Howard and Raj sat around the coffee table, listening for the tenth time as Sheldon recounted the phone call from the MacArthur Foundation.

Howard leaned forward, "So I heard that Gablehauser is throwing a little shindig for you. To celebrate yours, and CalTech's, achievement."

Sheldon nodded. "Yes, that's true, though I told him that I really dislike attending those horrible parties, but he made it very apparent that it was a non-optional professional convention."

"Well that's exciting! Sheldon, it's a party honoring you, of course you have to go!" Penny exclaimed. "You get to dress up, schmooze with people; I love those kinds of things."

Sheldon sighed and looked at Penny with slight annoyance. "While I'm not exactly certain on the definition of 'schmoozing', I'm sure it is something that I would not be comfortable doing."

"You should take Penny as your date," Howard said, after Raj has leaned over to whisper something into his ear. "That way she can do the schmoozing for you. Besides, a little arm candy never hurt a guy."

Penny glared at Howard. "You'd be surprised just how badly this arm candy could hurt a guy, Howard."

"My bad, my bad," Howard said, holding his hands up in defeat.

Turning to Penny, Sheldon looked at her expectantly. "Would you be willing to accompany me as my companion for the evening? You would at least be able to alleviate some of the pressure on me."

Penny chose to see the compliment through the insult and she nodded. "Sure, Sheldon, I would love to be your date."

 

+

 

As the weeks leading up to the celebratory party loomed, Penny found herself swamped with work, spending nearly every night at the studio until almost midnight.

They had been working on filming a very tough, emotional scene, in which her character is finally confronted by a fellow doctor who has feelings for her. They'd been rehearsing a few times, and had shot several takes, but this was the last one of the night.

"You don't get it, do you?" Justin yelled, smacking the locker next to Penny's head. "You spend all your time trying to get him to notice you, to even look in your direction. And I'm..."

He paused and let his head fall, it was then Penny's cue to take put her hand on his chest. "You're what, Alex?"

Justin looked up, "I'm right here, in front of you, and I always have been."

And in that moment, when Penny was supposed to channel her emotions, and pour her soul out of her eyes and into the camera, or so the director had informed her, she could do nothing but bite her lip and try to quell the tears that sprang to her eyes as a very large revelation suddenly became apparent.

 

+

 

Since Penny's revelation it had been hard to do anything but feel incredibly conflicted. Did she really feel something for Sheldon that was beyond the social mores of their roommate agreement? Of course there had been moments over the past five years of their friendship that Penny had thought 'what if?' but nothing so clear and so overwhelmingly scary as this.

She supposed she could talk to Leonard about it, but even though he was happily married, there would be something still awkward about talking to him regarding Sheldon and her newly discovered feelings for him.

"Now Penny, please do not refer to anything as a "thingy" or a "whatchamacallit", understand? Just nod, and smile, and..." Sheldon said, as they made their way out of Penny's car and towards the university.

"Sheldon, if you want this night to happen you better learn to nod and smile and not speak as well." Penny said, her grip tightening on his arm as they walked into the party.

"Fair enough."

After dropping Penny's coat at the coat-check, Sheldon began to point out key people from the department, and from the university's board of directors. He was on his second round of names when Dr. Gablehauser approached them.

"Dr. Cooper, I'm glad to see that you decided to grace us with your presence." Gablehauser said, and Sheldon's jaw twitched, but he nodded and shook the man's outreached hand. "And who is this lovely thing?"

Penny's grip tightened significantly on Sheldon's arm, and it took almost all the restraint she had not to deck him right there in the school cafeteria. Sheldon, noticing the affect Penny was having on his arm, cleared his throat and gave Penny a pointed look.

"This is my roommate, Penelope. Penny, this is Dr. Gablehauser, the head of the Physics department."

"You can call me Eric," he said, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

Penny smiled, and nodded, giving Sheldon a saccharine sweet smile. "It's very nice to meet you, Eric."

Gablehauser excused himself moments later, leaving Penny and Sheldon staring at each other.

"Eric?" Sheldon hissed, glaring at her. "You're worse than my mother."

"Penelope? Only my grandmother uses that name, and that's when I've been bad."

Sheldon mumbled something that Penny didn't even care to ask him to repeat, instead she grabbed his arm and pulled him over to where Raj and Howard and Bernadette were seated.

"I need a drink." Penny exclaimed as she sat down. Raj, two drinks in his hands offered her one and she took it, downing the entire thing. "Thanks."

"No problem," Raj said, after he'd taken a few mouthfuls. "It's the only way to get through these things."

Raj was right about one thing, if Penny was going to be able to make it through this, and perhaps speak to Sheldon about her revelation, she'd definitely need a few more.

 

+

 

"Well, I think that went much better than it could have," Sheldon said, as he unlocked the door to their apartment. "Though I did think for a moment that you might 'go Nebraska' on Dr. Gablehauser, you contained yourself quite well."

Penny laughed and shook her. "That guy is a piece of work, I don't know how you can stand him."

"I can't, to be quite honest. The man is an idiot, whose works are even more derivative than Leonard's."

Sitting down on the couch, Penny kicked off her heels, resting her feet on the coffee table. "You know," she said, as Sheldon sat down in his spot. "I'm really proud of you, and I'm happy for you."

Sheldon blushed slightly, and Penny smiled, reaching over to pat his cheek affectionately. When he didn't leap away in fear of contamination, Penny took that as a sign, and leaned closer, pressing her lips against his before he had the opportunity to react.

His lips were warm and dry, and the slight burn of stubble against her mouth tingled pleasantly.

"Penny," Sheldon said finally, his hand on her shoulder as he pushed her back slightly. "I understand that for you, this kind of affection, it's the norm when celebrating an achievement...but I..."

Penny shook her head, and let her finger press against his lips, silencing him. "Sheldon, tell me how this is wrong? You know me, and I know you, and we're good together, whether we realize it or not."

"Penny, I believe your intoxication has you divulging things that perhaps you would not be divulging if you had not insisted on all those cranberry vodka martinis that Raj kept bringing you."

Penny moved from her sitting position on to her knees, her legs fitted tight against Sheldon's body. "Just kiss me."

And she brought her mouth back down on top of his, this time swiping his bottom lip to see if he would open his mouth to her. To her surprise, he did, allowing her tongue to invade his mouth, finding it warm and wet and sweet, like the diet Coke he had been drinking all night.

It surprised Penny to find Sheldon quite competent when it came to kissing, and yet there was something about him, a quiet that seemed to overcome him as he pressed his lips back against hers, his tongue sliding thickly along hers.

"Penny," Sheldon was moving now, standing up to hover awkwardly at the kitchen counter. "This MacArthur Grant, it's just the beginning. I have so much more left to prove, and should I let myself become distracted by this recent turn of events, I would be wasting such an opportunity that's been bestowed upon me. Therefore, while I appreciate such a sentiment, I can't."

Penny's stomach dropped, and she felt as though she might be sick. "You can't or you won't?"

Sheldon's jaw twitched and he swallowed hard. "I'm sorry, but that's irrelevant, Penny," he replied quietly, and he headed down the hall into his room, closing the door behind him, a noise that seemed to echo through the apartment, a metaphor far too painful for Penny's liking.

+

 

Laying in her bed, Penny could not fall asleep, the events of the night playing over and over in her mind, like some sadistic television reel. Tossing and turning she couldn't seem to get comfortable. Knowing that she wouldn't be able to sleep unless she some how made things right with Sheldon, she slipped out of bed and down the hall. she knocked softly on the door. "Sheldon?" When she opened the door she was surprised to see him sitting up in bed, his knees drawn to his chest, deep in thought.

"I couldn't sleep," Sheldon said, looking up at her. Penny nodded and moved to sit on the edge of his bed.

She wanted to touch him, to hold his hand, or slip her arm around his shoulders, anything, but she sat still, her hands in her own lap. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make this weird or uncomfortable."

They sat in silence, neither moving from their spot. "It used to be easier." Sheldon said, quietly. "Before Leonard and I had ever met you, it was so easy to immerse myself in my work."

Penny opened her mouth to speak but Sheldon reached over and put his hand on top of hers, silencing her for the moment as he continued. "I had my work, my friends, my comic books, and it was enough. It was more than enough. Suddenly there you were, in your Hello Kitty shorts and your baseball bat and your incredibly disorganized way of life. And you didn't fit in my world, Penny, you were alien to me entirely, to my way of life."

It was at this point when Penny noticed that he had started to stroke the top of her hand with his thumb.

"I tried hard to figure you out, to find which compartment you best fit in. But you don't fit in any of them, Penny, and I didn't know what to think of that, how to process that, you. And I still don't."

"Sheldon," Penny shifted in her spot, closing the space between them.

"I spent many years trying to ignore what you did to me, to diminish your presence and tell myself that it was all biological, physiological, and that I could move past it, focus myself on my work," he paused, taking a few slow breaths. "But as much as I resisted, it was still you I was thinking about. You made me crave human contact in a way that I never had previously. You still do."

Penny leaned forward then, pressing her lips against his, and they met in a hot wide kiss, their tongues slick in the others' mouth. Sheldon's hands fluttered nervously around Penny's waist and she slid her own hands over them, steadying them against her. Taking one of them by the wrist she dragged it up her torso, until his hand curled around her breast, the heat of their skin emanating through the thin material of her tank-top.

Curling his fingers over the lace of the top, Sheldon pulled it down, exposing her breast entirely. Penny watched him, his eyes flickering over her, the tip of his index finger grazing hesitantly over her nipple. Penny sucked in a quick breath, and Sheldon looked up suddenly, their eyes meeting.

"Help me get this off," Penny said, and she pulled at her top. "Yours too," She undid the buttons of his pajama shirt as quickly as she could, his hands still on her breasts, squeezing and groping at them. Their breathing was shallow and quick as they groped at each other; hands twisting under sweat damp clothing and sliding unevenly along warm skin.

"Penny..." His hand continued to trail up and down her side, unsure of how or when to proceed. "I..."

She pressed her finger against his lips and silenced him, again taking his hand by the wrist, placing it against the heat between her thighs. "You do this to me, Sheldon Cooper," she said, and pressed her fingers down against his, letting him feel the slickness of her pussy.

"Fascinating," Sheldon mouthed, resting his forehead in the hollow between her breasts, catching his breath. His fingers explored her slowly, carefully, until Penny thought she might come from the next slightest touch. When his fingers grazed over her clit, her body responded and she felt Sheldon smile against her skin. "This is your..."

"Yes." Penny said, not even allowing him to finish his sentence. "Yes, please, just...keep going." Her hand slipped down between them, fingers encircling his wrist as she slowly pushed his fingers in and then out of her. "Just like that."

He didn't need to be told twice, and she began breathing loudly, every push of his hand brought her closer and closer. It was merely seconds before Penny came, Sheldon's hand still against her, feeling the waves of her reaction, until she was quiet beside him, chest heaving softly with each shaky breath.

It was then that Penny's mouth found Sheldon's again, their bodies crushing against one another. Penny's hands scrambled for purchase on his pants and he lifted his hips as she dragged them down. Penny could feel the heat and stiffness of his arousal against her hip, and she rolled them against him, causing Sheldon to let out a shaky breath as she guided him above her.

"Penny…" he breathed, pushing his hips down against her hand, rocking his lower body back and forth against her. She had never seen this side of Sheldon, so disarrayed and scattered in his want.

Her hands left him and he groaned painfully, but they weren't gone long, just to push his briefs below his bottom, his cock bobbed between them now, the sticky pre-come smeared along her abdomen.

She opened her legs wider, allowing his hips to fit between them snugly as he pushed in, quicker than she expected and the impact of the fullness surprised her. It was a dull ache, a purgatory between pain and pleasure.

"Dear God, Penny" Sheldon breathed, stilling inside her as he became aware of her surrounding him. This time there was nothing he needed to be shown, no instructions to be given, he was all instinct.

The movements of his hips were fluid, and he rolled them, creating a quick thrusting rhythm that had Penny whimpering wildly below him. Her hands ran violently over him, nails raking lightly down his back. Her fingers curled tightly into his hair, only to drop down to grip hard on the muscles of his arms.

He would only last a few more minutes, Penny could tell, and felt him tensing, trying hard to hold off as long as possible. Sheldon's face went slack then, and he heaved a sigh, going slack in her arms, his head dropping to rest against her shoulder.

 

+

 

"Nothing has to change," Penny said, later, when they had crawled under Sheldon's blankets. Her arm was around his shoulders, and his head rested tiredly against her breast.

"I would be correct in assuming some things would change," Sheldon replied, a small smile on his lips. "I mean, we would save a considerable amount of time in the morning if we showered together."

Penny laughed, and pressed a kiss against the top of his head. "Sheldon, honey, I can guarantee you that any shower we took together we be twice as long."

"Penny, I know math isn't your strongest asset, but..."

"Sheldon." Penny pressed her hand over his mouth. "You're just going to have to trust me on this one."