I don't own BBT so I'm not going to be making any money from this. Also Sheldon/Penny haters? Go to the left.

Everyone else: enjoy!

Looking back, Penny was unsure of just how she began making out with Sheldon in the middle of an LAX parking lot, soaking wet, but she remembered it was the start of something amazing. {Even if the thick skulled man thought it was an inappropriate place for such a disgusting display of personal affection (which he broke the kiss to tell her and then proceeded to lean his head back down and continue making out with her.)}

It all started with the hottest heat wave in a decade to hit Pasadena. Eleven weeks straight of no rain and 100+ degree days of blistering, heat-stroke inducing, water shortage causing, electric bill rising, air conditioner failing heat.

When the boys left, she was already wearing shorts and tank tops. Now, she was just-the-tiniest-bit-glad the boys were gone so she could walk around in her booty shorts and sports bra without any comment.

Who's she kidding; she would have done it even if the boys were home. She knew Raj wouldn't say anything just because he couldn't and Leonard would probably excuse himself or try to be a gentleman about it. Sheldon would probably feel right at home in this heat as was used to girls walking around in sports bras. He did have two sisters, and they all lived in Texas. And Texas deals with this kind of heat every Summer anyway.

Alright, so she was glad Howard was gone.

Three weeks into the heat wave and just a month after she was left alone on the fourth floor, Penny was looking forward to a day off of work. She had planned to sleep in, play a little Age of Conan, kill a few mummies, get a little drunk, and the fall asleep when she felt like it. But then something horrible happened only ten minutes into her mummy massacre.

Penny's air conditioner died.

She called the super, who told her she wasn't the only one in his two buildings with that problem, and she was, like, number 10 on his list. It would be awhile.

So, she did what any reasonable, hot, fit, 22 year old girl would do if her air conditioner died on her day off: she barricaded herself into her neighbor's (amazingly cold) apartment and cuddled down into the forbidden cushion with her laptop, three bags of cheetoes, and cooler filled with water and Bicardi at her feet. She was only going to stay the afternoon and enjoy pleasures like cool air and free Wi-Fi for a few hours.

But instead of going back into her apartment that night to take a shower – she took one in the boy's bathroom. Instead of changing into one of her godawful, hot, clammy nightshirts – she slipped into one of the boy's cool, smooth, cotton shirts. She thinks it was Sheldon's by the length of it.

And instead of going back to her hot, humid, gross apartment all the way across the hall, she stayed in the room with the ceiling fan. That room just happened to be Sheldon's room.

Two weeks after she spent that first night in Sheldon's room, with Sheldon's shirt, smelling like Sheldon's shampoo, she had become addicted.

Fourteen days, she spent living in his apartment, sitting in his spot, sleeping in his bed. She was lonely and had missed the boys before, but now it had become harder and harder to leave this apartment. And she was missing Raj and Howard and Leonard less and less.

She began missing Sheldon more and more. Like the smell of tea every morning when she came in and stole coffee. (She realized that neither Sheldon nor Leonard drank coffee – they kept it around for her.) Or doing laundry with company that wasn't squeaky pipes or her I-pod. (She realized that she had become accustomed to doing laundry every Saturday night.) Or how Thai food was never really that good when she ate alone. (Even if she was sitting in Sheldon's seat.)

By the end of the third week in the boy's apartment, she had practically moved in. She had changed the sheets in Sheldon's room, bought food for the fridge and the cabinets. She had brought her toothpaste and toothbrush with her hairdryer and makeup (not her shampoo and conditioner, because Sheldon's was doing wonders for her hair.) She even brought over a basket of clean clothes to change into after a long day's shift at the Cheesecake Factory.

The day the boys called through Skype's webcam service to say hello and check in on her was the day she was began to worry what Sheldon would do if he found out she was living in his apartment.

Questions arose as to why Penny was in the boy's apartment. She told a little white lie about just staying in here while she waited on the super to fix her air conditioner.

"It's only for the afternoon, I swear," she bit her lip. Soon, Raj had connected to his parents and left the conversation, and Leonard and Howard had decided they were ready for sleep and before long it was just her and Sheldon.

They talked for hours, comments about how it must be completely horrible that Penny is caught amidst hottest heat wave to strike to West Coast since she had arrived in California while it sucked that Sheldon was freezing his ass off up North. They planned to meet via Age of Conan the day after tomorrow (when Sheldon was anticipating down time on his scientific doodads.) Penny promised to check on their mail at the post office. Sheldon wished her air conditioner a fast recovery, and Penny told him how much she missed him.

They were quiet for awhile after that. She, no doubt, knew that he was unsure of how to handle her being so upset all of the sudden.

"If your air conditioner is still not fixed," he began, "You may sleep on our couch. Leonard, surely, would not mind if you stole his room for the night."

She smiled, "what about your room?" She thought about him catching her sleeping between the sheets wearing his shirt. Oh, he'd go ape-wall and Penny had half a mind to put that visual in his mind, just for fun.

"People don't go into my room, Penny."

"What if I did?"

His mouth became thin, and his eye twitched. "Do not go into my room, Penny."

"Sure, sure. I got it, Moonpie."

His eye twitched again. She smiled, and he said goodnight. Later, after Penny had snuggled down into Sheldon's bed, she was shocked awake from a dream. In the dream, Sheldon had walked in on her in his bed. She sat up, and waited for the wackadoodle rant that was coming. But dream-Sheldon did not blow up. His eyes traveled up her body – from her toes under the covers to the hem of his shirt at her waist and finally up to meet her eyes and everywhere in-between. He licked his lips, crawled up the bed toward her and covered her mouth with his own.

She woke up just as he was taking back his shirt.

She spent the next four nights, hot and sweaty, sleeping in her own room.

The next week, she was sick with some kind of bug that was going around the Cheesecake Factory. The doctor at the clinic had told her to stay indoors in the cool as much as possible. She was not to be working around food and people, so Penny was forced back into the boy's apartment. She needed to get better, she needed to work.

She stayed on the couch.

It took her three days to fully recover (she still had the sniffles – but whatever – she was on the antibiotic long enough, right?) and she was back waiting tables. It was that night that the boy's called her via Skype again.

Except it wasn't all of them, just Sheldon.

He was worried. He had just gotten her email about being sick and told her to stay away from his room. She assured him she didn't go anywhere near his room since the last time they talked on the webcams. That much was true, at least.

She smiled, as this time he had caught her in her apartment instead of his own. But she didn't realize that she wasn't wearing much.

"Penny," he started, "Is that my shirt?"

She looked down. Sure enough, she was wearing an old grey "The Flash" shirt that went to her mid-thighs. It was still too hot in her apartment to wear anything else. (She was now number three on the super's list!)

"Um," she said, looking back up to the screen, worried.

His eye was twitching again, "Why are you wearing my clothes?"

"There's a water shortage?" Penny tried.

"Why would a water shortage allow you a reason to wear my vintage. Flash. T-shirt?"

She swallowed hard, "well, I haven't done laundry because of it," that was truth, but not why she was wearing Sheldon's shirt. She didn't even know why she had taken a liking to this particular piece of clothing.

"And that means that you can wear my clot- that means you went into my closet. Which means you went into my room."

"No," Penny said. "This was in a basket in your bathroom. Like you guys had done quick loads of laundry before you left."

"SO? WHY ARE YOU WEARING MY SHIRT?" He practically screamed over the webcam. Surely the other boys would be coming to check out what was wrong with him by now.

"Alright, alright!" She said suddenly and ripped the shirt off her back. "Happy?" She began to straighten it out and fold it as neatly as she could.

"OOOOH SWEEEEEEEEET," she heard from her computer. Howard was leaning over Sheldon's shoulder and was smiling.

Penny was confused for only a moment until Sheldon said, "Penny… you're topless." Looking down once, she was, in fact, without a bra. Looking up, eyes wide, she immediately shut her computer and screamed.

She avoided anything to do with the boys for the next week and a half. She didn't read Leonard's, Raj's, or Sheldon's emails. She deleted Howard's as soon as she saw them, refusing to even read the subject box. She turned down Skype invitations and (as much as she wanted to level up) she avoided Sheldon on Age of Conan.

Then she had an email from Sheldon that had a subject line even she couldn't avoid.

From: .
Subject: I'm sorry, Penny. Please talk to me.

From talking with Leonard and Raj, I know that our last webcam conversation was surely embarrassing for you. I have come to the conclusion if I humiliate myself in a similar manner, maybe we'll be even and you will reply. Here is an attempt: I am sorry that I put you into that situation or at least did not warn you that you were, for a lack of a better work, naked sooner. I was a little distracted by the fact that you were wearing my shirt. (Which – we will discuss later.) For now, I just want to make sure that you are alright. I have come to realize that I have a longing for California and the repetitious schedule that you and I held before I left. Even these emails and Age of Conan nights are somewhat of a highlight up here. I may have close colleges surrounding me, but I still feel lonely. The fact that you haven't answered my last few emails has me feeling worse.
You may keep the shirt, if you want it. I'm worried that you are ignoring me because I was so harsh upon seeing you have stolen my property. But I forgive you (only in the lightest since of the word) for your transgression, if only you would talk to me.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper

It was a sweet email, especially for Sheldon. She laughed at how he signed his name. Always full. Always with his title. She bit her lip, and hit reply.

She started typing and told him everything. How her air conditioner still wasn't fixed. How she slept in his bed. How she replaced all his food. How she used his shampoo. How she lived on his couch and was completely sorry about it, but if he was lonely, imagine being her; stuck in the hot with no one next door. And that she was totally keeping the shirt.

He forgave her on two conditions: she buy him new sheets ("with a 400 thread count and blue or it's no deal") and free BBQ burgers for the next month. And she got a strike.

It was a tough bargain, but Penny thought she got off easy. Plus – she found R2-D2 Pillow cases she was going to throw in for free. And she always ignored the whole "strike thing" anyway – so whatever.

They were on good terms again, and she replied to all of Leonard's and Raj's emails. She sent one to Howard saying that if he ever brought up her naked breasts in conversation ever (and Sheldon would let her know if he did when she wasn't around,) she would go Junior Rodeo on his ass and make sure he'd be the last of the Wolowitz genealogy line.

The next time her and boys webcamed it was a week later and Howard asked her what "Junior Rodeo" meant. Sheldon told him he didn't want to know and to just shut up about it. Penny smiled at him and he smiled back at her and Leonard, Howard, and Raj were confused.

The next day, the super fixed her air conditioner while Penny and Sheldon killed mummies.

The day before the boys were coming home Penny was sitting in her apartment, covered in a layer of sweat, praying her air conditioner didn't die on her again. She was listening to the news on her computer; she had to give up television to keep up with her electric bill – living in her own house with her own bills was making it hard on her wallet. She had her thermostat set on the lowest she dared and was fanning herself with an Entertainment Weekly.

"…we beat record highs again today, Sam. Is there any relief in sight to this drought?" said her computer's speakers.

"Yeah, Angela, the heat just keeps coming. But it looks like those tropical storms from the southern Pacific are moving in faster than anticipated. This is great news as we defiantly need that rain. Although we are going to see some incredible storms tomorrow, Angela, with 50 to 60 mph winds, six weeks without rain is defiantly too long. I think we are going to feel an increase in humidity coming in from the south all day today until that storm blows in late tonight and early tomorrow morning. Until then, we just have to do our best to keep cool!"

"Thanks, Sam. That sure in good news… next: Sports with Dan Lanc-"

Cutting off the forecast she headed off to shower before bed. She was going to be picking up the boys at LAX in the morning and for some reason, she felt like she needed to be dressy for the occasion. She figured in this heat wave – a shower the night before was kinda dressier. Grabbing fresh towels and her new nightshirt, she paused to stare at the lightning logo. She bit her lip and headed toward her last night with Sheldon's shampoo, trying to remember that she needed to buy it for herself, instead of just re-stocking his.

Once she was done with her shower, she stared down Sheldon's door. Before she knew it, she was snuggling down into his new sheets and setting his alarm. The last time she slept in his bed was the night she had the dream and thoughts of her tall, deep-voiced, neighbor swam through her thoughts.

Suddenly, she couldn't explain why she unexpectedly couldn't sleep.

The next morning had a beautiful sky. She could see the storm in her rear-view window as she drove toward the airport and hoped it wouldn't cause problems for her boys. Once she was there, she parked and waited. Then the sky got darker, so she went inside the waiting area to check the monitors. They were still on schedule, so she decided to wait inside.

Then her heart dropped when the "on schedule" on the TV screen turned to "re-routed" and then to "delayed – ten minutes" within the space of ten seconds. Families and others waiting on the flight like her all began to worry.

Ten minutes past their arrival time, no plane had landed, but they were circling the airport. Penny was frustrated when the lady at the desk was telling people to be prepared to come back if the plane was re-routed, the storm still hadn't hit – just land the plane goddamnit!

Three hours later, Penny was still waiting in the airport parking lot. They were all told that the plane had landed, but couldn't dock. There was an influx of planes on the tarmac because of the storm. Too many had landed and not enough had taken off. Penny, frustrated as hell and antsy to see her friends, yelled a little too loud at the assistant in the front room and was asked to leave.

So, she was sitting in her car the first time it rained in over twelve weeks. It came down sudden and hard with a flash of lightning and a boom of thunder. The rain hit the top of her car like tiny tap dancers, and she smiled at the relief even the first drops of rain brought to the air. She clicked on her windshield wipers, hoping they still worked after a whole summer of cooking in the sun. The wipers pulled back the curtain of rain to reveal each of her boys standing with their luggage and an umbrella not forty feet away getting soaked in the rain. Her phone vibrated, but she didn't know who it was, as she was already out of her car and waving at the boys.

The rain was coming down so hard and so fast, she had been out of the car not thirty seconds and her hair was already flat against her head. Her boys were home and she didn't care. Then she saw Sheldon smile. A true genuine smile. The one that he has when she gets his order just right, or when she comes over to steal coffee, or when she beats him to the laundry room. The one that always made her smile back even if she was having the worst day ever. The one, up until now, she didn't know why made her so happy.

Stupidly, and like something out of a bad romance fiction, Penny ran over to the boys and threw her arms around Sheldon.

And, surprising all three of the boys, he dropped his umbrella and threw his arms around her just as her lips found his.

Fin! =D

This was written in response to the Friday Community Challenge Promt ("homecoming" and "rain") over at Sheldon_Penny on Livejournal. It was supposed to be 100 - 500 words. Obviously it grew much larger than that. People over on livejournal liked it, which made me quite proud of it. =D I'm just putting it here so I don't lose it in the future.

Let me know it you liked it!