AN: For the sake of the story, Sheldon is 23 and Penny is 24. Because we do not have ages verified in canon, I just let them align to the plot bunny bouncing in my head.
Simultaneously Logical and Illogical
"Happy New Year!" Penny shouted, just walking straight into Leonard and Sheldon's apartment.
"Penny, New Year's was 25 days ago," was the only response she got from Sheldon, too busy typing something on his computer to give her any attention.
"I know, silly. It's the Chinese New Year! Now, look up and tell me what you think of my outfit." Sheldon paused from his work and sent a cursory glance over Penny. She was wrapped in a stereotypical Chinese red silk dress with its tight Mandarin collar and dragon embroidery.
"It's very nice," he mumbled before turning back to his screen. She huffed and smacked his arm with the little fan she had tucked in the cross-cultural obi she had included. Sheldon had chosen not to mention that obis were of Japanese tradition because he knew it would only gain him another smack.
"Where's Leonard? He would appreciate my festive-ness."
"Out with Leslie," Sheldon sneered, "again."
"Oh," Penny said, more disinterested than hurt. She sat down beside him on the couch. "It's the Year of the Ox, Sheldon."
"Oh, not more of this astrological nonsense."
"It is not nonsense, Sheldon. Here," she said, grabbing the laptop away from him. "Prepare to be amazed."
"Just don't lose my work." She rolled her eyes as she googled the Chinese zodiac.
"See, I'm the Year of the Rat." She handed him the laptop and he began to read the personality traits aloud.
"Occupying the 1st and most prominent position on the Chinese Zodiac, the Rat symbolizes such character traits as wit, imagination and curiosity. Rats have keen observation skills and with those skills they're able to deduce much about other people and other situations. Overall, Rats are full of energy, talkative and charming but they have a tendency to become aggressive. My God, are you sure you didn't write this yourself?" Penny laughed.
"Let's look yours up. '85, right?" She clicked on the link for the sign below hers and brought up the Year of the Ox. "Hey, it's come again!" Sheldon just rolled his eyes at the obviousness of the statement and let her read his personality to him. "Occupying the 2nd position on the Chinese Zodiac, Oxen possess such character traits as dependability, strength and determination. Oxen are tolerant individuals who believe that the road to success involves hard work and scrupulous behavior; they don't believe in taking shortcuts. They characterize those who don't work hard as lazy individuals not worthy of respect. Oxen are capable of trusting others and will listen to their opinions with an open mind. However, Oxen prefer making decisions that are based on their own research. Oxen favor strong, life-long alliances to casual acquaintances. Home is where Oxen go to seek comfort, occasionally watching television or reading. They prefer the rural outdoors and spend the majority of their "home" time working in the garden or caring for the yard."
"Well, see, totally wrong. I have no garden." Penny paid him no heed.
"Oxen are strong individuals who overall are healthy and live long, fulfilled lives. However, they tend to work too much, rarely allowing themselves enough time to relax. Oxen could benefit from incorporating more non-work-related activity into their lives. Sheldon?" she intoned the last word to let him know what she thought about that.
"What? Doesn't sound like me at all," he said, a small squeak at the scary truthfulness that came from all this "astrological nonsense".
"Oxen prefer work that is routine. They take a methodological approach to their tasks and excel in jobs that are specialized. Oxen possess a keen eye for detail and an admirable work ethic. They are more productive when allowed to work alone. Good career choices for oxen include: interior designer, painter, carpenter, quarry worker, archeologist, horticulturist, mechanic, engineer-"
"Oxen aren't very sociable and rarely participate in group activities. They abhor small talk and won't waste their time flirting. They will search long and hard for the perfect partner as change makes them uncomfortable. Whether due to an ox's tendency to be overbearing or tendency to place blame on others, relationships with Oxen don't always work out. When Oxen realize that partnerships involve two people and two points of view, satisfying matches are possible." Penny couldn't help but stop reading when she saw Sheldon's face reddened and his eyes look everywhere but at her.
"Red's a lucky color used frequently in the celebration of the Chinese New Year," Sheldon tried to cover quickly.
"Why are you blushing?" she snapped, not buying his crap.
"It's just...it's too true."
"Oh, really? How would you know?"
"Because it explains why it took so long for me to open up to you." It was Penny's turn to blush.
"Do you really mean that, Sheldon?"
"It spells it all out perfectly. There's nothing more simultaneously logical and illogical as this personality reading. If it is true that the year in which I was born has some sort of play on my personality, then it makes perfect sense. It wasn't until I was able to see your point of view that I-" Penny was biting her bottom lip raw with this confession from Sheldon.
"You?" her heart threatened to burst. It was like putting it into cold water and shocking it to hear such vulnerable and tender words from Sheldon Cooper; and they were directed at her.
"I learned to love you." Penny couldn't help but smile and laugh. It was like learning the grass was green or the sun sets in the east. It's so simple and complex that all it leaves in you is joy and wonder. She didn't have words to say to match this declaration. So, instead, she just kissed him. Her stubborn, bullish Ox who she felt more for than any man she knew.
"So," Sheldon breathed when she released him, "what does the Zodiac say about this?"
Penny read him the last line of the page, stopping part way to kiss him again.
"Oxen are compatible with a Rat-"
AN: Very OOC for Sheldon at the end but worth it because I just wanted something cute.
Source for Chinese Zodiac information: www . chinesezodiac . com / index . php
(Take out the spaces, of course)