Umbrella in the Rain

A/N: This is a Sheldon/Penny pre-ship story inspired by Irrel's drawing: Umbrella in the Rain on LiveJournal.

Penny looked out her window, "crap", she muttered as she stared out at the pouring rain. , Where the hell is my umbrella? The last time I had it was… crap… in the car… along with the script for tomorrow's audition. With a heavy sigh, she pulled on her boots, the polka dot ones her mom had bought her in junior high, grabbed a plastic bag for the script, shoved it in the back pocket of her jean skirt and walked out the door.

"Penny", she looked up to see Sheldon looking at her from his doorway. "You shouldn't go outside like that; you'll get wet, reduce the efficiency of your immune system, and render yourself vulnerable to illness."

"How did you know I was going outside?" Penny replied. "Are you psychic besides being a genius?" she said slightly sarcastically, though she regretted it a moment later. After a year across the hall from her lanky neighbor, she realized this was his odd way of showing concern.

Sheldon pursed his lips. "I don't need an imaginary sixth sense to see that you are wearing those hideous rain boots. When you are staying in the building you always wear your pink slippers." He paused for a second before continuing, "simple observation, any scientist's most basic tool, tells me you are not staying inside."

After a second she looked at him, in his own weird way he was showing concern. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that, I have to get my script from the car, I need it for my audition tomorrow," she replied. She smiled slightly, "I'll just have to deal with getting wet, I need the script and my umbrella is in my car."

"Wait there please", Sheldon stated, Penny watched him disappear into his apartment, heard the noise of objects moving around and watched him reappear with an umbrella in his hands. Sheldon gestured down the stairs, "I shall escort you to your car. This will allow you to efficiently locate your script and umbrella while minimizing the risk to your health."

Penny was a little startled by the unexpected offer, she started to ask why he was going to help her… Sheldon Cooper was the last guy she expected to see chivalry from, but she settled on "thank you". She started thinking as they walked down the stairs, Sheldon really isn't the last guy to expect this from is he? When he actually stops to think about other people, he is always polite, it's just that he spends so much time thinking about the universe that he forgets there are other people around. When he knows what the rules are, he may be the most polite and respectful guy in the world. She smiled as she remembered seeing him protecting his throat that one time when she opened the door right at 11 am. He is so damned literal isn't he? You tell him not to do something and he'll bend over backwards to avoid offending you.

"Thanks for the help Sheldon" she told him as they stepped out into the rain. The heaviest rain had passed so that it was more of a persistent drizzle. She noticed that he carefully kept the umbrella where she would stay dry. "You didn't have to do this and I appreciate it."

Sheldon nodded, "My Me-Maw told me that a gentleman should always hold the umbrella for a lady. She was most insistent. She would be disappointed if I let you get wet when I could have prevented it. I had to come downstairs for mail already… she would insist."

I'm a lady? I don't think anyone has ever called me that before. He can be so sweet. She smiled at the thought.

They arrived at Penny's car. A quick search of her front seat located both the script and her umbrella. She began to open her own umbrella, but Sheldon stopped her. "No need for that, mine is already wet and quite big enough to return you safely to the building."

As they walked back, Sheldon began a short discourse on rain, Penny listened and even asked a couple of polite questions as they neared the door. Once inside Sheldon collapsed the umbrella and began to walk over to the mailboxes, Penny followed, she checked her box and listened to Sheldon continue as they walked upstairs. As they approached their floor, he fell into silence. Upon reaching their floor, he began to reach for his door till he heard her voice.

"Sheldon." He turned, and saw her standing next to him. Before she realized she was doing it, she grabbed his hand in hers, stood up on the tips of her toes, and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. Lowering herself to the ground, she looked directly at him and said "Thank you. That was a very sweet gesture." Sheldon stared as she released his hand, turned away, and walked into her apartment.

Penny stopped as soon as she closed her door. Did I just kiss Sheldon Cooper? She tried to dismiss the thought, and start studying the script. But later that evening, she kept thinking of the taste of his skin and the expression on his face.

Sheldon walked back into his apartment. "Where did you go? Leonard asked from the kitchen. "You went to get the mail 20 minutes ago"

"It was 17 minutes, I escorted Penny to her car, she did not have an umbrella. It would have been rude to let her get wet."

Leonard paused, Sheldon actually did Penny an unrequested favor? Sheldon propped the wet umbrella in the corner on the towel he kept there to keep water off the floor. Leonard watched him sit down at his desk, It looks like Sheldon, and talks like Sheldon, but I wonder it there might be a person struggling to get out after all. Sheldon worked on his computer for the rest of the evening, but every once in a while, he would glance toward their front door and beyond.