Originally written on 10/7/2009 and posted at Paradox, the Sheldon/Penny LiveJournal Community.
This was a sequel to The Gothowitz Deviation. I had been a bit annoyed with the writers; the Penny we met in The Panty Piñata Polarization would so have figured out Sheldon's Pavlovian evilness and found a way to retaliate. This is that story.
Leonard jumped backward a few steps. He didn't know if it was natural or also a result of Sheldon's 'conditioning,' but Penny's voice had gotten alarmingly low. Like a demon's. Or Darth Vader's.
"It's, it's nothing!" Leonard hurried to calm, waving his hands in what he hoped was a placating manner. "It's just, he was getting annoyed I guess at, at us, and he decided to… return things back to the status quo."
Penny didn't answer. Her normally beautiful face was contorted in inexpressible anger, currently directed at him.
She finally took an advancing step toward Leonard. "And you didn't tell me?"
Her voice was calm, but in an "eye of the hurricane" way.
"Well—I tried to get him to stop—"
"And you didn't tell me?" They were close now, her leaning forward and down in a threatening manner that made him want to back away more if her couch wasn't behind him.
"Leonard," she bit out. "If Sheldon is doing something to me, you tell ME, got it?" She jabbed a finger at him. "You may be my boyfriend, but it's not your responsibility to try to control what is happening to me—especially if it's because of Sheldon! You. Tell. Me." She paused. "Got it?"
"Good. Now, if you'll excuse me."
Penny brushed past Leonard, sweeping out of her door and down the hall. The door to 4A was closed, as usual, and Sheldon was probably ordering pizza or whatever the hell he did right after work.
She raised her fist, ready to slam it into the door three times, but an errant thought made her pause. Sheldon was human. (Right?) What if…
No. She couldn't pull this off. He'd see right through it, or it plain wouldn't work on him.
Penny narrowed her eyes.
But what if it did?
She suppressed her triumphant, slightly evil smile, and knocked on the door three times. Softly. Sweetly.
Sheldon opened the door, the deceptively kind smile on his face to which she had unknowingly (well, knowingly now) become accustomed the other night. Penny was a little humiliated at the sight of him, that she had fallen for his, his training like she was one of the dumber horses at the farm back home, but she channeled all of that into a bright smile.
Must not punch, must not punch, must not punch…
"Can I come in?"
"Of course, I was just placing our order at the Thai restaurant."
Holy hell, how did I not see through this? she asked herself, feeling a little repelled at his kindness and enthusiasm.
The mail was dropped haphazardly onto Leonard's desk, the various letters and junk and magazines strewn about. She stared at it for a second, and then had an inexplicable urge to straighten it up. Refusing to let her face tighten up in anger, Penny recognized that as Sheldon's little experiment. Then she had a quite explicable urge to pick up all of the mail and throw it at him.
She suppressed that, thankfully.
She looked up. Sheldon was on the phone, his back turned to her, the phone pressed between his shoulder and his ear as he moved some dishes from the sink to the cupboards. Penny positioned herself by Leonard's desk and waited for him to turn around.
He did so, and instantly she reached forward, gathered up all of the mail, and put all of the letters into a neat little pile, throwing away the obvious ads.
Then, very deliberately, she smiled at him.
Sheldon had the chocolate ready, holding it out in front of him as he detailed the order to the restaurant on the other line. At this point Penny was particularly glad that he was not adept at reading body language, because she wasn't really able to keep both of her hands from balling into fists.
"Ooh, thanks!" Maybe she put a little more bite into that phrase than was really necessary, but it was Sheldon, so.
Striding across the room, Penny picked a piece out of the box and plopped it into her mouth. And, okay, sue her, she couldn't quite stop herself from moaning a little. Sheldon was a smart man, to use chocolate. She didn't think anything else would have worked, and it helped that the chocolate was so. freaking. Good.
At this point Leonard walked in, caught sight of her eating the chocolate, and opened his mouth—no doubt to ask what the hell was up, didn't they discuss Sheldon's little experiment and how he like wasn't allowed to do it?
So she pursed her lips, widened her eyes in what she hoped was a significant "shut the hell up right now" way, and glanced at Sheldon. He was looking smug. How typical.
Leonard frowned, closed his mouth, and then opened it again. "Penny? Can I… talk to you?"
"Of course, sweetie!"
She threw one last very very sugary smile at Sheldon before she disappeared down the hall into Leonard's room.
She knew the rules.
Now damn her if she wasn't gonna play the game.
Over the next few days, Penny played very carefully. She didn't give Sheldon any hint that she knew what was going on, but she also didn't let him implement any new "training" exercises on her. And she allowed the chocolate to keep coming. She made sure not to start her little plan yet, to let him think he had control over the experiment, and slowly tested her boundaries.
For example, tidying up earned her a piece.
Sitting automatically on the middle cushion didn't.
Putting her feet on the table initiated what she had come to know as the training sequence.
And asking his mother for the recipe to peach cobbler got her a whole freaking box.
It was a Saturday when she began.
The four of them were watching a movie together, and Penny was sitting just a hair closer to Sheldon than she normally would. Wolowitz leaned down to mutter something to Raj on the floor, and Penny seized her chance.
"Shh!" It was the strictest, most Sheldon-y "shh" she had ever given.
Wolowitz turned around to stare at her, but Penny focused on the rustle of paper to her left. Within two seconds, there was a piece of chocolate in front of her face.
Penny leaned forward, slowly, shutting her eyes when she got close. Her teeth grazed his index finger, and she flicked her tongue for the tiniest second over his thumb as she took the chocolate into her mouth.
Next to her, Sheldon started, but she pretended to not notice as she languidly moved the bit of chocolate around in her mouth. Then (and, okay, maybe she used an image of Brad Pitt for reference here) she let out a low, throaty moan.
"God. This stuff is so good," she murmured, pretending to be ambivalent to the looks of the four boys around her, who were staring as if she was suddenly dressed in Leia's slave-dancer bikini.
The next day Sheldon rewarded her for muting Project Runway. This time, he held out the box instead of an individual piece, his face a little cautious.
"Thanks!" As usual, she made sure her voice was bright and not suspicious at all.
She popped the chocolate into her mouth, sensing his wary eyes still on her, and, after swallowing she made sure to confirm his worst suspicions by looking at him through lidded eyes and saying, "Mmm. Chocolate turns me on so much."
His cautious look went to downright alarm. Taking another chocolate, she turned around, flashed him a grin and a shrug, and made a grand (in her mind) exit out of the apartment.
Penny could tell that Sheldon hadn't mentioned anything to Leonard. Leonard wasn't in on the specifics of her plan; he would be uncomfortable and would surely say something if Sheldon mentioned that his chocolate was having, as he would say, "aphrodisiacal effects" on Penny. This meant one of two things: either Sheldon didn't notice (which Penny wouldn't believe for a second), or that he did notice and was so uncomfortable and so eager to repair the problem, that it hadn't even crossed his mind to talk to Leonard.
Penny hoped deeply for the latter
Because today was Day One of the "relapse" part of her plan.
She let herself into 4A. Sheldon was sitting in his cushion, playing Conan or Warcraft or what the hell ever. Penny made a beeline for the middle cushion, sat down, and put her feet on the coffee table whilst turning on the TV. As she expected, Sheldon cleared his throat and, as she expected to, she took her feet off the table. And, as she also expected, she didn't receive a chocolate for her "good" behavior.
Penny allowed herself a smirk.
She sat still for a very long fifteen minutes, the TV volume relatively low, and once those fifteen minutes were up she nonchalantly set her feet back on the coffee table.
Out of the corner of her eye, she was able to see Sheldon look at her, but her only response was to wriggle a little more into her seat and turn the volume up a few notches.
Then she heard the tell-tale sigh.
Feigning surprise, she turned her head to look at him. "Oh! Do you want me to take my feet down?"
They stared at each other for a moment, after which he just said, "Yes."
Penny waited, pretending to consider it just long enough to make him worried that she wasn't going to do it at all. Then she shrugged, and took her feet off, but didn't turn down the TV.
In a second she was greeted by the box of chocolates.
This time, she suppressed the smirk, and glanced at him. Sheldon's face was highly reluctant, as if he had told himself that he was only going to offer the chocolate under extreme circumstances and even now he wasn't sure.
May I add: muah, ha, ha, she thought, smugly.
Taking a bit, she popped it into her mouth. Next to her she felt him shift slightly away. She chewed and still kept her focus on the TV, and, just as she felt him gear up for a silent sigh of relief, she looked at him.
Her teeth were playing on her bottom lip, and she glanced at him from under her lids. She could hear death and destruction happening on his laptop, but he was staring at her, looking truly frightened.
Now running her tongue over her lips, she gave him very obvious elevator-eyes. With anyone else it would have been over-the-top, but it was Sheldon; when it came to body language you had to be a little (or a lot) over-the-top.
And it worked.
And a flash of red appeared across his cheekbones.
Quicker than she thought he could be, he relocated out of his spot and into—of all places—the armchair. He looked highly uncomfortable but didn't comment and sat there, pretending to be immersed in his game.
Penny gasped, a real one. This is a… new development. She could tell he misinterpreted the gasp, because he jumped, fidgeted in the armchair for a moment or two, and rose jerkily from the chair and walked to his bedroom.
Penny stared after him.
She was gonna run with this.
It was Monday again when she showed up with Leonard at his apartment, her back pockets stuffed with fun-sized Hershey bars. It was Thai night again, and Howard, Raj, and Sheldon were all in their places around the coffee table.
Leonard moved to sit down. Normally Penny wouldn't have noticed something as completely inane as that except for it was in her cushion. And, yeah, she realized that she was acting like exactly like Sheldon, but she needed that seat to continue with this little game Sheldon didn't know she was playing.
So she darted behind Leonard and jumped into her seat, barreling into Sheldon's shoulder in her haste. Leonard made a little noise of surprise, flailed, and toppled neatly over her legs and onto the right side of the couch.
"Sorry, honey!" she said, laughing lightly as if she were flirting. "Didn't see you there," she murmured, making eyes so he wouldn't suspect anything, and she pushed herself off of Sheldon's side.
Still smiling, she looked over at him. He was comically frozen, left hand gripping his plate and right hand his fork. There were little bits of food on his lap that had fallen when Penny basically tackled her seat and, by extension, him.
"Don't call me Shelly," he replied automatically, leaning forward to put his food on the table and picking up a napkin.
He hadn't even scolded her for running into him. She really must've freaked him out.
Sheldon froze for the tiniest second, but then ignored her and began to clean up his lap.
"Gosh," Penny remarked, suddenly, tapping her fingers against her knee and then rubbing her thigh. "For some reason, I really want chocolate right now."
Sheldon froze. Again.
"You sure you don't have any left, Sheldon?" she asked, leaning toward him. He leaned away.
"I am sure." He tried for nonchalance, but she saw right through it.
Penny sighed dramatically. Her audience—Raj, Howard, and Leonard—were staring at her.
Sheldon was just picking his food back up when he turned to look at her. If the look on his face were captioned, it would be "Deer Caught In Headlights."
"What is this?" Penny continued, lifting her hips off of the couch and digging into her back pocket. She drew a Hershey's milk chocolate. "Oh, hey, look at that!" Smiling, she unwrapped it and made to put it in her mouth.
Apparently Sheldon was fast like a freak because suddenly the chocolate bar was in his hand, and he tossed it onto the table and away from her.
"Hey!" she exclaimed, affronted. "What the hell was that?"
"You're eating a lot of chocolate, Penny. I believe that too much in large quantities is bad for one's health."
Oh, this was rich, coming from the man who hand-fed her like three boxes.
"You know what?" And before he was so much as able to say something stupid like I know everything, she reached into her back pocket and pulled out another one and ate it.
Leonard, Raj, and Howard were watching her like she was crazy, Sheldon was watching her like she was about to explode, and Penny was very deliberately not acting any different than usual. Minutes passed, in which the former three slowly turned back to food and conversation, but Sheldon kept his eyes on Penny. She felt his gaze like an anchor but didn't acknowledge it, enjoying keeping him on edge like this.
Sheldon calmed over the course of dinner since she was making sure to not act all, you know, hot and bothered. But then Raj and Howard left and Leonard went downstairs to empty the trashcan, leaving her and Sheldon alone in the apartment.
He was cleaning up, going on and on about this, that, and the other, when she decided to try something.
"Sheldon, please shut up."
Sure, it was a little mean, but the guy had tried to train her, so she didn't feel very guilty about it.
He stopped and looked at her in incredulity for a moment, and then he said, "No," and started to go off again.
So she leaned forward from her seat, picked up the chocolate bar he had thrown on the table. He saw her and stopped.
"Man," she remarked, twirling it between her fingers. "I wonder what two of these babies would do to me."
She looked at him. He had stopped talking and was staring at her, looking like he was afraid to even move.
Penny sighed dramatically. "I'll just say, as it is I can't wait until Leonard gets home, how bad will I be if I eat another one, you know?"
Sheldon opened his mouth, possibly to try to answer her question, but she moved the chocolate closer to her lips. He closed his mouth again.
Pretending to contemplate the chocolate, she said, "I don't even know if I can wait until Leonard gets home," and looked at him sideways. She watched him fidget, blush a little, then shuffle backwards a few inches.
Satisfied with her work and almost unable to hold in a triumphant dance, she shrugged and dropped the chocolate bar right into his spot, got up, and left the apartment. "Bye, Shelly!"
The next day and a half contained, sad to say, some of the most fun moments of Penny's life. She made Sheldon make her coffee. She made him fold her laundry even though it wasn't laundry night. She made him watch Friends with her. And, most fun of all, she made him blush countless times.
All she had to do was go for the chocolate.
Revenge was freakin' sweet.
And then it was Wednesday night. She was paired with Leonard against Sheldon and Raj for Halo, and Sheldon. was. beating. her. It was almost as humiliating as when she found out about his little experiment the week before.
So she got cocky with the chocolate.
Risking taking her hand off the controller, she dove her fingers into her back pocket and deftly, one-handedly, unwrapped a Hershey's. Then she waved the wrapper in front of his face.
"What're you—" he started, jerking a little when his line of vision was interrupted. He looked down at her (all four players were standing up, leaning toward the TV), and Penny met him with a challenging stare.
She went cold when she saw the brief light of realization in his eyes.
Flushing furiously, she ate the chocolate anyway and jumped back into the game, not allowing for him to comment unless he wanted his head blown off.
She and Leonard lost.
As they packed up the game, Penny tried to surreptitiously study Sheldon. He was basking in his victory and showed no sign of being onto her, so to speak. She left the apartment early and didn't let Leonard come with her because she needed to think.
I mean, she reasoned, I have nothing to be afraid of. If he calls me out, so what? Then I can tell him that his little stupid-ass trickery backfired on him, and I'll still win.
Despite this, she was still afraid of him calling her out on it.
There was that look on his face, the realization… but he could have been realizing anything. He could have been realizing that she may jump him or whatever if she ate the chocolate. He could have been realizing that she had a chocolate addiction. He could have been realizing a thousand different things, it didn't have to be the fact that she was toying with him.
But she had to find out.
So the next day, when Howard and Raj were on their way over and Leonard was picking up the pizza, Penny headed over to Sheldon's.
They didn't say anything to each other as she perched herself on a stool and he poured himself a glass of juice.
"Pour me one, Sheldon?"
He looked at her, and she was a little taken aback at the nonchalance in his eyes as he said, "No."
"Why not?" Penny's hand drifted to her pocket.
"I won't have enough left for tomorrow morning."
Casually, she began to unwrap her last chocolate bar. She was aware that both of them were watching each other out of the corners of their eyes.
Take this, Shelly, she thought viciously.
Putting the candy into her mouth, she closed her eyes, bent her head, and let out a low, quiet moan. Then she peeked and Sheldon still seemed disinterested. So she let out a tiny breath, straightening and not-quite-arching her back, clenching her hands into fists.
"Sheldon." She made her voice deliberately low, throaty, and she leaned forward, grateful that her tank top was low-cut. "What would you do… if I told you to come over here so I can kiss you?"
The look on his face would have been worth breaking her façade for and grabbing a camera. Smug, she could tell he was going to back down, blush, get her the juice, then escape into his room.
But he didn't.
Sheldon narrowed his eyes and set the glass down. Then he walked so he stood in front of her, still sitting on the stool.
"Fine," he said.
Then the beginnings of a triumphant smirk began to appear at the corners of his mouth, about to evolve into an expression annoyingly similar to the one he was wearing last night when he kicked her ass at Halo.
This was it. This was him calling her bluff.
But neither of them expected her to call his.
Penny yanked Sheldon down by his shirt and planted one on him. He made a little noise at the back of his throat, but was apparently too stunned to do much else. She took advantage of this, sliding off the stool and forcing him to walk backwards, her hands now locked around the back of his neck to hold him where he was.
The kiss remained close-mouthed, except for at the end when she swept the tip of her tongue along the crease of his lips. Then she shoved him. He hit the refrigerator and for a moment there was utter silence and stillness in which they looked at each other, his face pale, hers flushed.
Then he pressed his lips together for an instant, pushed himself away from the fridge, and some of the color returned to his face. "Well," he started, "that was—"
"Don't even, Sheldon." All of the anger and humiliation she had felt was now bubbling over. "You freaking deserved that and everything else I did to you this week!"
"I hardly think so! Granted, yesterday when I realized what you were doing I admit I was momentarily impressed by your cunning and subtlety, in no way does a few hours of me getting your feet off the table, or keeping you from screeching anything you want to, deserve—"
"Oh, really?" she interrupted, her voice sarcastic. "Because I think it does. Shut up and let me finish! I was taking revenge, Sheldon, yes, mostly for that but also for all the other fucking times you've called me stupid or ADD or what the fuck ever! And you're just angry I managed to trick you!"
Sheldon's face was slowly getting as red as hers, and they were advancing on each other.
"I'm angry that your sudden and inexplicable relationship with Leonard is ruining my life—"
"It's ruining your routine, don't act like it's the same!
"—and I'm angry that you did trick me, Penny, not just that you managed to despite the fact I was under the impression that you had little acting tal—"
Her next words were aimed to kill. "Don't you dare call me a shitty actress when you're even shittier of a friend!" At the look on his face she continued, "Yeah, no, that's right, you heard me! I don't care how much I was 'ruining your life' or whatever, but we're freaking friends, Sheldon, and don't you pull that 'since when did we become friends' shit on me again, you know we're friends and if you wanted me to turn the noise down or or or, I don't know, use a coaster or whatever, then you ask me to and I will! But, no, I have to become the stupid bitch that might as well be in a dog show!"
"Yes, you might do so this time—" They were remarkably close now, their faces inches from each other, but Penny had never felt like she was in a less intimate situation in her life. "—but fifteen minutes, a day, a week from now you do the same thing! You have no consistency of which to speak! You are constantly thinking about yourself or whatever new paramour you have attached to your side, and my life was consistent until you integrated yourself into it—"
"Yeah, well, you know what Sheldon?" Penny plowed on, even more fired up that he was fighting back, now just throwing out words without abandon. "Go 'head, I'll leave you alone to go back to your sick little routine life, because I'm tired of it! You think the sun shines out of your—"
"—it doesn't even matter if you leave or not because whether you're here or out that door you still interrupt everything!"
"Excuse me if I leave and you you notice like the couch has moved over like an inch—"
"It isn't just that, it's, you—I—"
In a vindictive way, Penny enjoyed his speechlessness, even though she wasn't quite sure what they were yelling about anymore. "Never thought I'd see the day," she tossed one last one over her shoulder as she strode to the door. As she hit the hallway, lips still tingling, she saw out of the corner of her eye Howard, Raj, and Leonard rushing back down the stairs as if they weren't listening at the door.
After she slammed her door and kicked the couch a few times, the argument and, ahem, what led to the argument started to replay back in her head. His voice, all over again, still tugging at her as if he was still in the room, shouting things at her. Refusing to do anything stupid and weak like crying, she went to pull down a bottle of wine and a boxed set of Gossip Girl.
There was a knock at the door. At first she thought it was Leonard coming to talk, which she did not feel like doing, but then she heard Sheldon's voice—"Penny." The process was repeated, once, twice.
For a moment she had a very strong desire to ignore him, but, bottle of wine in hand, she swung the door open.
His stance and facial expression could only be described as defiantly awkward. After opening the door, he pressed his lips together again before speaking.
"I'm not here to apologize for what I said."
"Although I do regret tricking you."
"Am I correct in assuming that you won't apologize either?"
"Yup." She popped the 'p'. Although she was still mad as hell and fully intended on making him do all the work for whatever little stint he had planned here, she allowed herself to be a little satisfied that they at least agreed that they meant what they said to one another. It surprised her that that didn't even hurt; the honesty was nice at least.
He nodded, and glanced down once at his hands.
When he looked back up at her, he did something that made quite a few things click into place. His eyes lingered for a hair too long on her lips.
For a moment, Penny believed she got insight onto how Sheldon's brain worked when a thousand things flashed at her at once. Some of the impressions stuck out: him blushing, him shouting, until you integrated yourself into it..., her watching him work, him struggling for words, whether you're here or out that door you still interrupt everything, pressing his lips together, her lips tingling and tingling, and everything was so suddenly overwhelming how the hell did someone survive with a brain like this?
Instead of confusing her, relieving her, exciting her, shocking her into speechlessness herself, for some reason, she wasn't sure why, it provoked her.
"Oh, I know what this is about."
"Doubtful." His voice was condescending, and he punctuated the sentence with his stupid little I-know-things-you-won't-ever-be-able-to-wrap-your-mind-around smirk.
The air between them became charged again, getting ready for another battle, and Penny prepared to say something that would make him back down, or brush the whole thing aside like he was so fucking good at doing, so they could be properly angry at each other for a satisfactory amount of time until they became just friends again, because even though she hated him to the point she wanted to shove dry-erase markers into his eye sockets, she loved him too much to really truly leave like she had threatened, and, Wrap your mind around this, Doctor Cooper.
"Doubtful, but not impossible, right?" The condescension in Penny's smirk could have given Sheldon's a run for its money. Her tone was deliberately provocative, and she pushed every word out of her throat with total control. "Go ahead. Lay it on me." And, when he stared at her, suddenly wary, she tilted her head and let one corner of her mouth perk up even more. "I'm waiting," she sing-songed.
Penny allowed the moment to stretch on for a few more seconds, until she sighed. The sigh wasn't very believable, due to the fact she was still grinning at him. "I thought not," she stage-whispered. "Well, Sheldon, this was nice, but," she held up the bottle of wine, "as you can see, I have a date, so I'm just gonna shut this door in—"
She really should have seen it coming. She was still watching him closely, and his blue eyes became more determined, his stance stronger, but no, she was too busy gloating to remember that this was a night of calling bluffs and Sheldon was definitely getting ready to call hers.
All at once Sheldon was kissing her, closed-mouth like before, but somehow it made her mind draw a complete blank. He pressed his mouth against her upper lip, then her bottom lip, and all she could feel was a vague tingling and her face and neck and chest heating up like that time she tripped and fell in front of the casting director. Then, in a move oddly reminiscent of the kitchen, she felt him just barely taste along the crease of her lips and, all at once, he wasn't kissing her anymore.
Penny was still frozen, staring up at him, and instinctively she pressed her lips together so as to surreptitiously taste them without him noticing
Her voice was hoarse as she said, "You know I didn't actually want you to do that. I was bluffing."
Sheldon, for lack of a better word, studied her for a moment, his eyes sweeping over her face, her neck, and she expected him to point and say something like, The flush and your dilated pupils would suggest otherwise.
"I wasn't," he said instead.
If you enjoyed this, check out the sequel: Unsaid, also on my profile. :)