Written for Paradox's July 31st Fiction Friday/Smutty Saturday challenge: rodeo, laundry, perfume, confession

Sheldon had always assumed that Penny's threat of going 'Junior Rodeo' on them was just that, a threat. He didn't expect for her to barrel into their apartment as they were heading out for their second day at the Renaissance Fair, brandishing five tickets to the Rodeo and shouting "Yeehaw" as she pushed them into his hands.

"Get out your gear, Cowboy, we're going to the Rodeo," she smiled at him.

"No," he squeaked, pushing the tickets back toward her.

"No?" she repeated, her voice low with disbelief and a little anger.

"I refuse to sit in a stadium of kissing cousins, smelling the stench of all man and bovine kind, getting showered in a steady stream of peanut shells, to watch 8 seconds of entertainment. Besides, we're going back to the Renaissance Fair." She glanced down to him dressed as Spock and quirked an eyebrow. He really shouldn't have loaned her the Original Series.

"Sheldon," she smiled sweetly and he smiled back, naive to her trickery. She reached up and ripped a molded Vulcan ear off, frowning. "Dust off your old Cowboy clothes, Sheldon, we're going to the Rodeo."

So Sheldon found himself squeezed between Howard and Penny at the Rodeo. She was dressed in a short denim skirt that he wouldn't have recommended for such unsanitary conditions, a blue gingham shirt she had tied the tails of beneath her bust and a black Stetson cocked over her cowgirl braids. He saw Howard drool a little every time Penny would jump up and down as the bull tried to buck the cowboys off. Leonard was giggling like a schoolgirl and Raj was decidedly mute.

Sheldon made a quick glance at his companions. Leonard had over dressed, not exactly thinking about the fact that this wasn't a date but a kidnapping. Raj had come in his normal sweater-vest but he noticed it had a dusky red and black desert motif across the bottom. Points for subtlety, Sheldon conceded. Howard was in a garish Turquoise cowboy outfit, complete with silver bangles on the white, fringed collar. He had a large white Stetson that he kept trying to tip up with his thumb but it resolutely fell into his eyes the more he tried.

Sheldon had done just as he had been instructed by Penny: he dusted off his old plaid working shirts and jeans, even managing to dig up his grandfather's burnished gold belt buckle before Penny had banged on his bedroom door and told him it was three minutes until she picked the lock and drug him out. That was the quickest he had ever dressed in his life.
Penny cheered, sloshing her beer a little as she jumped to her feet. Sheldon amused himself by calculating the angle of degrees each rider was shifting his center of gravity in order to remain on the bucking bull. He glanced over at Leonard, trying to whisper something into Penny's ear but she was waving him off as they announced the results. Leonard sighed a little but turned his attention back to arena.

Sheldon soon found himself so engrossed in the mathematics of the display before him, he hadn't noticed the slight sheen of sweat on his body from the hot stadium and cramped seating. He had noticed the way the humidity made his hair not lay quite as perfectly flat as he liked it to be or that he had been forced to roll his sleeves up to his elbows at some point. He glanced over at his compatriots to see them all in similar states of shabby disarray because of the heat; all but Penny. She seemed still in her element, the sweat just making her skin glow more brightly in the stadium's dusky lights. The dust in the air was swirling the light waves and making the hair loosed from her braids look like a halo. He couldn't help but appreciate the way her flat stomach dipped around her hipbones, how the lean muscles of her upper arms curved into her shoulders, how that one bead of sweat was languidly dripping down into the valley of her breasts....

He flushed with a new heat that had nothing to do with the masses of people around him or the stifling air stale with beer. He glanced back toward Penny to see her wink at him, the testosterone in the air feeding his blush. He resolutely looked back toward the display in the ring and refused to glance to his left.

"WHOOOP!" Penny danced her way up the stairs. "Now that, boys, THAT is my kind of fun." Leonard was simpering and smiling. Howard was smug about the lady he had hooked up with down by the Clown's barrels and being generally intolerable. Raj was muttering about steaks someone behind him, having ingested enough beer at the rodeo to lower his inhibitions. Sheldon felt the frozen, sticky sweat on his skin crack as he stretched his neck. He rubbed the spot and felt the grit from the arena dust on his flesh. Penny turned around and blocked the stairway. "Tell me you guys had fun."

"Oh, yeah," Leonard agreed. Howard chuckled lecherously and Raj nudged him with a friendly elbow. Sheldon thrust his hands into his jeans' pocket before he looked up at Penny's eyes. He tried to think about how hot it had been, how sweaty he had become, about the smell and the unsanitary seats and the animals. Instead, all he could see is the way she was standing before them, one hip cocked to the side, her arms stretched and her hands pressed against both walls, her skirt riding up for thighs slightly...in that moment, he knew how Leonard felt in her presence.

"More than I would have guessed," he conceded to her. She smiled brightly at him before turning on her cowboy boots and trooping back up the stairs. He studied the pattern on her boots thoroughly, if only to keep his eyes away from the way she was swinging her hips.

The night was winding down in a haze of trying to ignore Howard's attempts to recount the tale of his sexual prowess with Sarah, the Iowa farm girl who was stupid enough or naive enough to believe him to be the undersecretary to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Penny had sat next to him, seemingly quite happy with herself. Howard and Raj filtered out of the apartment as the alcohol started to wane from Raj's blood, leaving the neighbors to themselves. Penny stood suddenly, pulled her skirt down where it had ridden up as she sat, and said her goodnights. Leonard received a kiss on the cheek and a whisper that Sheldon couldn't even conjecture to the nature of. He refused to look at that. As she made her way to the door, she caught Sheldon's eyes and winked again, her pigtails bouncing around those smooth shoulders. He felt that flush again, jolting through the arteries deep inside his body.

He saw her black Stetson sitting on the couch where she had just been sitting, radiating something he couldn't name. He followed her to the door, waving the hat towards Leonard to let him know where he was going. Leonard laughed and told him to 'hurry up, partner, we still got to marathon some Firefly before bed'. Sheldon smiled weakly, thinking this was akin to blasphemy. He opened the door and made his way over to the green door he knew rather well, something different than intellect raising his hand to knock.

She opened the door, smiling at him. "Hi, Sheldon," she whispered. She had taken her hair out of their braids, leaving it softly kinked over her shoulders. He held out the hat. He gave him a questioning glance that made tremble slightly around the knees.

"You forgot it...on the couch." She took the hat and plopped it on his head, her fingers ghosting past his cheek. They watched each other for a moment and all Sheldon could see was the goosebumps on the exposed part of her breasts above her half unbuttoned gingham shirt and the way she was looking at his hands, the way that felt like treason. He slowly raised his arms and took of the hat, laying it into her hands before turned on his heel and marching back to his apartment.

He opened the door slowly to see Leonard in his bathrobe, sitting in Penny's spot with his feet propped up on the coffee table. Sheldon couldn't say anything to him tonight, couldn't rebuke him when he had been so carried away by his own feelings, something he had held careful reign over for so long. He pushed them back in light of Leonard's face, in the light of Leonard's hopes, because anything else would have been blasphemy indeed.

Originally posted on Livejournal on 31 July, 2009