Three days later, and Penny and Sheldon had been doing a completely different kind of dance. Penny had largely kept to her own apartment, only joining the guys when her absence would be obvious. When they were together they put on an excellent act of near normality. Even Leonard was almost convinced. Occasionally however, their eyes would meet…and it made her melt. She ran through a list in her head of all the reasons her and Sheldon would never work, and threw herself into seeing Jake.

Sheldon, as ever, threw himself into his work. He had had a lifetime of suppressing his feelings and, although these ones were proving particularly troublesome to ignore, he was determined to persevere. Penny had made herself very clear on the matter and he respected her wishes. Even if, as he was beginning to realise, they weren't his own.

The night of the dance came about. Penny had consigned that dress to the back of her wardrobe and instead bought a new one with no uncomfortable associations. When Jake turned up in his tux she took his arm and tried not to look at the apartment opposite as they left, ignoring the ache that went through her as she did.

The meal was exquisite and she made small talk with Jake's colleagues, playing the role of the doting girlfriend with practised ease. She watched him when he wasn't looking, searching for a sign that she was doing the right thing. He was handsome, had a good job, and he wasn't dumb…but it wasn't enough. She finally allowed him to lead her to the dance floor, where it hit her. The man in her arms wasn't the one she wanted. She didn't understand quite how it had happened, but all she could see when she shut her eyes was Sheldon…Sheldon rattling off some ridiculously complicated bit of theory that he knew she would never understand, but telling her anyway. Sheldon telling her she was in his spot and demanding she move. Sheldon asking her to sing 'Soft Kitty' when he was homesick. Sheldon kissing her.

She suddenly stopped dancing, stood on her tiptoes and kissed Jake on the cheek. "I'm sorry, Jake. I can't do this. I'm sorry." He looked shocked, but she could already see a host of admirers ready and willing to comfort him as she ran from the room.

Sheldon was staring at his board. Leonard was working nights and he was alone in the apartment. He was aware that tonight was Penny's big night with Jake. This wasn't something he should be aware of. Her dates were not usually something he kept track of, unless they fell at particular times of her menstrual cycle, in which case he ensured that they always had a box of tissues and an emergency stash of chocolate available for the inevitable emotional aftermath. Tonight, however, he could think of nothing else. He stared at the most important work being done in theoretical physics and thought of Penny in another man's arms.

His reverie was interrupted by a soft knock at the door. Continuing to stare hopelessly at the board he shouted a listless "come in".

"Am I interrupting?" Penny's voice made his stomach lurch. He whirled around. "Penny? What are you doing here?" He took in her outfit and tear stained eyes. "Is there a problem?"

Penny laughed. "No, Sheldon. No problem." and with that she was walking up to him, putting her arms around his neck and kissing him fiercely. His arms came around her automatically, encompassing her and reaching up to bury his hand in her hair and cup the back of her head. His head was empty of everything but her; her scent, her taste, the feel of her against him. She pulled them backwards until she was resting against the kitchen counter and he took the hint, pressing her up against it with his body. Long buried instincts took over. Dropping his hand from her head he rested it delicately on her hip, then ever so slowly explored her, moving over her stomach until he was gently cupping her breast. She moaned into his mouth and her hands frantically scrabbled under his T shirts until they found flesh. She could feel him hard against her and ground her hips into him encouragingly. It was his turn to moan as new sensations flooded his body. Gasping for breath, he pulled back. "Penny…I…."

"Shh, sweetie. Come on." She took his hand and led him to his bedroom. "Do you have anything we can use?"

Sheldon looked blank for a minute, and the sight was so unusual that Penny had to bite back a giggle. He caught on and flushed even more. "Of course….Howard insists on keeping us all stocked up with such things." He frowned slightly. "He's somewhat of an optimist." He pulled a condom out of the drawer by his bed and looked at it, his eyebrow raised. "Although I must say I've never had cause to use one as yet." At this, Penny smiled.

"Well let's see what we can do about that…" she said, pulling him down on top of her. Sheldon turned out to be a quick study. He slid the strap of her dress off one shoulder and kissed his way down her neck, before uncovering her breast and continuing his kisses. When she couldn't stand it any more she reached down and in one movement pulled off his T shirts. Sheldon looked a little shy to be so exposed, so she rolled him off her then knelt on the bed and pulled off her dress. Sheldon's expression glazed over slightly as he lay staring at her body, so she took the opportunity to undo his pants and pull them off. She was glad to see he had got rid of the white underpants (even if they were replaced with Flash boxer shorts) and very glad to see that everything was in proportion, as it were. She glanced up. Sheldon's instincts had obviously deserted him, as he laid there with a terrified look on his face. She climbed on top of him and started kissing him again. Back on familiar territory Sheldon relaxed, and his hands restarted their exploration. Soon they were grinding against each other, small gasps and moans escaping from them both. Penny couldn't stand it anymore. She quickly dispatched of the rest of their underwear and reached for the condom. Tearing it open, she noticed Sheldon watching with interest as she rolled it onto him.

"Oh…oh!" She realised that this was probably going to be over fairly quickly. She straddled him and then, looking into his eyes, gently lowered herself onto him. She felt him fill her completely and gasped. Neither of them moved as they got used to the sensation, then Penny bent down and started kissing him again. Sheldon unfroze, and put his hands on her hips, guiding her slowly as she started to rock on top of him. In a flash he suddenly understood why people spent such a huge amount of time seeking out this sensation. It was exquisite. He desperately tried to distract himself to postpone the inevitable, but then Penny leaned down and whispered in his ear that she was about to come and he gave up on any pretence of being able to restrain himself. He held her firmly and bucked into her as he felt the sensation build. He heard Penny give a small cry and felt her contract around him, gripping him tightly and making him explode inside her. An immense feeling of release washed over him, and with it there were strange emotions. He pulled Penny down and wrapped his arms around her, kissing the side of her neck and stroking her hair. He felt dampness on his shoulder and gently pushed her up to look at her face. She was crying quietly…but when she looked at him she gave him a huge grin. Some more instincts kicked in, and he pulled her back into his arms.

Leonard was surprised when he got in the next morning and found Penny in their apartment making breakfast. He should have been even more surprised when she asked him how he felt about the idea of her and Sheldon being 'an item'. But suddenly a lot of stuff slotted into place, and he found that actually, he was pretty ok with it. He made her promise to spare him the details and not involve him in their arguments. Penny gave him a huge grin, swept him into a bear hug and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. Then she disappeared into Sheldon's bedroom looking happier than he had seen her in a long time.

Yeah, it was ok with him.