It was an unusually chilly winter's day in the city of Pasadena, California. While the temperature was certainly not a record low, it did cause several people to dig out the sweaters they stored in the depths of their closets. It was this particular predicament that was a very important variable in the events that occurred that fateful December afternoon.
It all began with Penny being asked to pick up Sheldon from work. She was incredibly reluctant at first, recalling all the previous times she had driven him to various locations. It wasn't the actual driving part that she loathed, it was the fact that Dr. Sheldon Cooper was physically incapable of keeping his mouth shut for more than two minutes. If it weren't for Leonard practically begging her to take him, stating that he was unable to do the task himself because of some particle thinga-majigger he had to use that day (her words, not his), she would have declined.
While Sheldon was just as chatty as ever, it was not too excessive, and for that Penny was grateful. Perhaps Leonard had given him a talk before Penny had arrived, requesting that he at least try to control himself. Whether or not it was even possible for him to say anything that would keep Sheldon Cooper from being…well, Sheldon Cooper, was entirely up in the air. Either way, during the entire drive from Caltech to the apartment, he had only made four criticizing comments about her driving techniques, three disparaging remarks about how unsafe the car was, and one grumble of disapproval when she decided to once again take Euclid. To her, that was a breakthrough.
As they stepped out of her car, they were suddenly hit with the frigid air that was enclosed in the apartment's parking garage. The one nice thing about her car, regardless of how many times it broke down on her, is that it still had a working heater.
As if by impulse, the moment the cold struck his face, Sheldon pulled out a tube of what Penny assumed was lip balm. While she couldn't recognize the brand name on the tube, she could only imagine that it was probably some obscure medicinal junk that you could only order online. Or, knowing Sheldon as the paranoid germaphobe that he was, it was probably some home brewed concoction.
Her assumption was confirmed when she got close enough to smell the strong and unappealing aroma that only some medicated products could cause. "Ugh. Sweetie, that stuff smells disgusting," she told him bluntly as they began to walk toward the garage exit. To rid her nostrils of that stench, she pulled out her own brand of lip balm to apply: Chapstick's Blue CrazeBerry.
"And what, precisely, do you recommend I do? Because of this unexpected weather change involving a decrease of temperature and an increase of wind rapidity, I have become much more susceptible to cheilitis." Penny stared at him. "Chapped lips," he explained bitterly. "I thought you with your fascination of various cosmetic properties would at least know that 'that stuff' you so quaintly referred to as, is a medicinal tool often used to alleviate and prevent such a formidable happening."
"You mean lip balm?" she said with an 'I'm not THAT clueless' look on her face.
"Well, yes. I suppose that is the generic term for it," he muttered, placing the item in question back in his jacket pocket.
"But why does it have to smell so awful?" Penny asked, scrunching up her nose disapprovingly, finally putting her own lip balm away as well.
"And how, exactly, do you suppose it should smell? It's merely a combination of dimethicone and other various ingredients… none of which have a particularly appealing scent to them," he explained.
By then they had stopped walking and were now speaking face-to-face, regardless of the fact that they were not yet on their floor. "Sheldon, lip balm doesn't have to smell like a cattle ranch!" she explained to him. She was amazed that some of simplest things could confuse such a genius.
"Really?" he asked. "I've been using the same product since I was a child… I guess I've just never bothered to find an alternative. I suppose an additive flavorful substance added in could help."
"Oh trust me, it does," Penny agreed, nodding along, smiling at his fascination with the idea. "Try mine! It tastes like cotton candy!"
That's when it happened.
Instead of offering him the tube of Chapstick and having him decline, sputtering things about how unsanitary it was and whatnot, she did something she thought she would never ever do.
She kissed him.
The moment their lips met, Penny's head began to whirl with questions that seemed to have no answers she could think of. Why was she kissing him? Why were her eyes closed and her arms around his neck? And most importantly, why was she STILL kissing him?
His lips seemed to capture hers perfectly, and despite her previous statement about how disgusting his lip balm was, she appreciated the fact that his lips were properly moisturized.
The kiss was gentle and lasted no more than a few seconds, but when she finally did pull away from him, she couldn't say a single word. In fact, she couldn't seem to remember words. She couldn't remember how to breathe. And she was afraid to open her eyes.
Yet, when she did, she saw that he was also only beginning to open his eyes. It was at that point in time that she became aware of her raging heart beat. Her head began spinning again… or perhaps it had never stopped. Penny realized that she was going to have to move out of her apartment, considering that there would be no way she could ever rid herself of all of the strikes she was about to acquire. Sheldon would never forgive her. She had broken so many of his rules in such a short period of time. That had to be a new record!
Just as Penny thought Sheldon was about to scold her for what she had done, he said something that astonished her even more than the Christmas hug.
"All right. You made your point."
Then, without missing a beat, he turned and continued walking up to the apartment. She wasn't certain (after all, at the moment, her sanity was currently in question), but Penny could have sworn she saw a small sliver of a smirk on Sheldon's face as he turned to leave. And for that, Penny was able to breathe again.