Title: The Expert Diversion
Author: renisanz
Summary: Penny decides to help Sheldon out with her relationship-ending expertise.
Rating: PG
Spoilers/Warnings: 2x06 The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem.
Betas: LilyAyl & LadyLioness
Notes: I finally caught up on the first half of Season 2. After watching this episode, I started to think about how it could have gone another way. I never thought I'd write another S/P fic, but the idea wouldn't leave me alone, so I decided to try writing it. Major thanks to L and K, because they pushed me so hard and really helped nudge the narrative in the right direction. Feedback is so very much appreciated.

. . . . . . . . . .

Three soft raps in quick succession followed by a familiar voice rasping her name sounded on the other side of her front door.

Penny looked up from the script pages she'd been reading and placed them on top of the cluttered coffee table before standing. She really didn't have time for Sheldon's nonsense, but, if the tension in his voice and the frantic cadence of his knocks were any indication, he would not be ignored. Quickly taking in the current state of her apartment, she hoped Sheldon wouldn't ask to come in.

She opened the door just after he finished the third and final series of knocks to find him standing on inches from her and was a bit taken aback. "Sheldon, honey, I've told you, it's a small apartment. You only have to knock one time—"

"Penny, please. I don't have a lot of time," he interrupted, glancing back at his apartment door across the hall before turning back to her. "Look, Ramona has finally dozed off, and I need you to help me get rid of her."

"Get rid of her how?" Penny asked incredulously.

"I don't know, but apparently I'm in some kind of relationship, and you seem to be an expert at ending them."

Penny rolled her eyes and glared at Sheldon. Sheldon had an amazing gift for insulting her in the same breath as asking for a favor. Still she couldn't help feeling a bit of sorrow for his poor, socially maladjusted life. At first, he was completely oblivious to the fact that Ramona smitten with him. Sure, Penny thought the girl was a bit intense, and her eyes bugged out in a weird way whenever she looked at Sheldon, but she seemed...well not exactly nice. Dedicated, maybe. Then, despite his big, beautiful mind, he had no idea, no theory, no hypothesis as to how to break it off. Whatever 'it' was.

Like a bolt of lightning, the idea struck her. Since Sheldon had interrupted her, he could help her out with a problem she'd been having with her acting. Her acting instructor said she needed to work on projecting a believable level of chemistry with her co-actor, and well, if Sheldon really wanted her help, there was no reason not to make the situation work for her. Penny folded her arms across her chest and leaned back against the door frame as she stared up at her lanky neighbor. "One way to end a relationship with someone is for them to find out that you're in another one," Penny said, choosing her words carefully.

"How do you mean?"

"Dr. Cooper?" the shrill voice belonging to the redhead sounded from inside apartment 4A.

"Hide me!"

"Hide you? No," Penny shook head. Geez, this was going to be her greatest acting job ever. "Look, just go with this, ok?"

"But Penny...?" Sheldon said, his eyes wide.

"You wanted my expertise, remember?," Penny said, as she moved toward him, gently placing her hands on either side of his face.

To her surprise, Sheldon merely nodded in response.

Penny took a step forward, closing the distance between them, keeping her eyes focused on his slightly parted lips before pressing her mouth against his.

As she expected, Sheldon stiffened against her, as if to confirm their utter lack of romantic chemistry. Ramona wasn't stupid so this was gonna be a hard sell if he didn't at least meet her halfway, and if not kiss her back, then at least act like this wasn't a completely foreign sensation—even it if was. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, Penny thought as she began to pull away and tried to formulate an acceptable apology.

Right then, however, the door to the other apartment clicked open.

Again, Ramona called, "Dr. Cooper?"

Penny was stunned when Sheldon leaned forward and she felt his lips moved against hers just enough to show her that he was at least trying. She decided to give him some encouragement and opened her mouth just a bit. Part of her was curious to see what he would do, and she got her answer when he began to return the kiss with a level of eagerness that could only logically be explained by his urgent need to get rid of the clingy grad student.

Penny's knees might have gone weak, because she stumbled backwards, off balance from the shock of his reciprocation, and maybe a little because his mouth was soft and warm. Sheldon moved with her, maintaining and somehow deepening the kiss as Penny steadied herself with one hand against the door frame. She placed her other hand around his neck, letting her fingertips creep into the soft hair the nape of his neck.

He tasted like mint tea.

"Dr. Cooper, you should be working!"

Finally, Sheldon pulled away. He dropped his arm from arm from around her waist (when had he even put it there?) and Penny opened her eyes just as he turned to face the skinny girl standing behind him.

"She distracted me," he said, pointing accusingly at Penny.

"I'm sorry, sweetie," Penny said. She licked her lips before looking up at him with her best seductive smile. She reached out and toyed with the fabric edge of his striped shirt. "I just hardly get to see you anymore. I didn't want you to forget what's waiting for you."

"I see," Sheldon said, his eyes wide as he looked back at Penny. "Well, I've been very busy."

"You could work over here with me." Penny smiled coyly. Her face felt warm, but she told herself it was from the awkwardness of kissing Sheldon. Nothing else. At all.

Sheldon just stared at her for a moment, as if he was actually weighing his options or something. It was another reminder of how Sheldon was different from, like every other guy on the planet, because to even his friends, the decision would have been obvious.

"That would be an acceptable compromise," he replied calmly. He turned back to his persistent grad student. "Ramona, I will no longer require your assistance this evening."

"But, Dr. Cooper," she sputtered, her face reddening with indignation. "You'd rather cavort in the hallway with this," she gestured wildly, indicating Penny, "this scantily clad woman of obvious loose morals than make paradigm altering discoveries?"

"What did you call me?" Penny challenged, attempting to step around Sheldon to confront the girl. She supposed her Junior Rodeo experience would work just as well on a girl.

"Now, Penny," Sheldon said as he deftly moved to the right, effectively blocking her path with his shoulder. "While it is true that you often clothe yourself in attire that accentuates your feminine attributes, particularly low cut tops that draw attention to attractive curves of your breast. I theorize the purpose being to attract a sexually desirable mate..."

She'd heard enough. Penny's heart did a weird flip of anticipation when Sheldon had stepped in front of her and seemed very much like he was about to defend her honor. Sure, maybe it was old-fashioned, but deep down, she didn't mind a guy coming to her rescue. She was fully capable of defending herself, but breaking her newly manicured nails in a girl fight was never any fun. But Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D. was getting it just plain wrong. And the sad part was, he didn't even know.

"You know what Sheldon..." she said, shaking her head and preparing to fight her own battle.

"However," Sheldon continued, undeterred by Penny's protests, "I must take umbrage at your attack at Penny's character. As a result, you are dismissed."

Penny's look of frustrated annoyance quickly change to one of shock and disbelief, as she realized that Sheldon had someone come up on the side of right after all. Sheldon was still staring at Ramona like, he was surprised that she was still standing there and hadn't, like, fallen through a crack in the floor or something. So he didn't see the smile teasing up the corners of Penny's mouth.

"What? But our research..." Ramona sputtered.

"Our research," Sheldon queried. Even with a three-fourths view of his face Penny could tell his left eyebrow was cocked up in that disdainful way.

And he still wasn't done talking. Oh, lordy, this was gonna be a long one. But between Sheldon's crazed...whatever she was and, well, Sheldon, she'd had her fill of wackadoodle for the week.

"Looks like you guys need to talk this out, so, I'm gonna go." Without thinking, Penny leaned up and gave Sheldon a peck on the cheek. Sheldon's left hand came up, fingers brushing against the small of her back as she tipped down, and her stomach fluttered at the familiarity of the gesture. She managed to shoot Ramona with a scathing look before closing the door behind her.

With her back against the cool wood, she slid down to the floor as she buried her head in her hands, fingers running through her blond curls as she lets the events of the last few minutes sink in.

"Holy crap on a cracker," Penny mumbled.